Has the Upswing in Our Economy Made Us Prematurely Fat, Happy and Vulnerable?
Let’s face it. Depending on what you’re reading these days, the global economy is still a bit tricky. I often wonder, not being an economics major, how we can say the economy is better when we’re not spending more money? Have we been lulled into a false sense of security? For the sake of this blog, it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that I spoke to 4 business owners today who could not give me a recap of their competition and what differentiated their company when held against them. There's an excedingly high level of companies who are operating like building a business in this economy is easy - but then they're surprised that they're struggling?
The sheer amount of IT companies, consultants (PR, Marketing, Accounting, etc…) realtors, yoga studios, hair salons, financial planners, restaurants, etc… is overwhelming. I’m always amazed when the 5th gourmet burger joint opens in town and struggles to succeed. What were they thinking?? There’s only so many ways to cook a burger…right?
If you own one of the 25 IT consulting firms in my market, or one of the 12 yoga studios, or even if you only own the only widget company in a 50 mile radius, I suggest you take note of the following 5 tools to move from survival to success:
1. Stay on top of your competition – Know what they’re doing, their pricing, their offering and how they differentiate themselves. Check their website monthly. Sign up for their mailing list.
2. Know how you differentiate yourself. Everyone promises to deliver great customer service, how will you be better/different?
3. Understand value. It’s come to my attention that most business owners struggle to assess their own value. Spend time truly understanding what your value is to your client. Value does not mean price.
4. Walk in your customers’ shoes once in a while. What are they hearing from you? What do they want? Your ideas make sense to you, but if you were your client would you buy them??
5. Don’t open a parakeet shop next to a vulture factory. Do some research (if it’s not too late) to identify your demographics before you invest. Why make your success harder than it needs to be?
Here's a great story of a Small Business USA member who got the joke. Bill owns a marketing company. They did inbound marketing for larger companies for years. Bill noticed more and more college kids moving right from college into his field. He realized almost anyone with a little talent can be a marketer. "You need a good computer and (arguably) a comfortable chair." He recognized that by doing the same things "as this younger generation who doesn't need as much money," his current model was at risk. He joined Small Business USA and his first month started working on his differentiators.
Bill checked his ego at the door, spent the first month working on his vision, goals, passions, current customers and strategies during his private consultations. By the time he hit hit first board meeting you could see a visible difference in how he carried himself. Bill decided to leverage his existing business to specialize in a field he loves.
Bill was an avid collector of antique cars and loved restoration. He was almost an expert in it already, but invested time and energy finessing his craft from the customers' perspective. 30 days later he had 2 new (big) clients and was on his way to becoming the leading marketer in his niche field. Focusing on restoration and collision, he's now happier and making far more money in a short time frame. His value was exemplified because he now offered something others couldn't.
Now, to go so narrow in your approach is a risk, but if today you can't identify your true value apart from all others, it's time you found a way to do so. It's critical to your success.
For help building your authentic and valuable brand, improve your business and plan for your future.- contact us. We're more than peer advisory boards.
Colleen Ferrary is the founder and president of Small Business USA. While maintaining their mission to keep their services affordable Small Business USA (www.SmallBusinessUS.com) is changing the success rate of small businesses. For more information or to set up a free consultation or learn about our affordable marketing workshops, please email Info@SmallBusinessUS.com.