Knowing what differentiates you from the competition is one of the most important steps to achieving a long-term vision for your business.
Michael Gerber writes that most businesses fail because most entrepreneurs fail to be entrepreneurial. They do the work, and they even do the work well, but they fail to work on the business.
But not all entrepreneurs who fail to work on the business fail in business. Many entrepreneurs succeed unconsciously in business. They get by for a long time (maybe even a lifetime) as a sole proprietor or as the owner of a mom & pop business. Good location, charming personality, amazing work ethic, fantastic customer service – those are the types of things that will get a business off the ground.
At some point, however, the entrepreneur will have to make a choice if he or she is going to make the transition from a one-person or mom & pop shop to a business that experiences planned growth, hires people, and contributes significantly to the local economy.
At some point, the entrepreneur must start to apply a more strategic, planned, and competitive approach to his or her business in order to achieve a more significant upward trajectory.
According to award winning management consultant Joan Magretta, “A competitive strategy explains how you will do better than your rivals. And doing better, by definition, means being different [emphasis added]. Organizations achieve superior performance when they are unique, when they do something no other business does in ways that no other business can duplicate.”
The crazy, complicated entrepreneurial challenge is to be able to execute phase one of the business plan by getting your business off the ground while also keeping your eye on the long-term vision of becoming a successful, ongoing concern that leverages its differentiators to outpace the competition.
We’ve already identified strengths. You can think of your differentiators as the precise ways you apply your strengths to activate the business.
Take for example my friend David Perry. David owns a very successful PR firm, David Perry & Associates.
David has a beautiful, resonant voice and a compelling, magnetic TV personality. These are just two of David’s many strengths.
Initially, David behaved like most PR people. He stayed behind the scenes, and he created opportunities for his clients to be the personalities in front of the camera.
In recent years, David started representing clients in a different way. Today, he differentiates himself as someone who will represent clients beautifully on camera.
David also launched his own TV show, Ten Percent, further differentiating himself from the many other PR practitioners in San Francisco.
David’s strengths — resonant voice and compelling TV personality — became differentiators when he began applying them strategically to market and grow his business.
Think about all of your strengths, and now imagine how you will apply your relevant strengths consciously to grow your business.
How will you do things differently?
This blog entry is part of a series of SWOT analysis questions to help entrepreneurs write their strategic brand positioning messages. Answering these questions will help put you on the path to succeed consciously in business.
My firm, 2Bridge Communications, is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs reach the next level. Contact me if you need help dealing with your crazy, complicated, exhilarating entrepreneurial challenges. I can help.