What is unique about being unique?

Recently, I was privileged enough to be invited to form part of a panel of ‘so called experts’. It is not my preferred way of engaging with business owners, large-scale talks tend to have a limited long-term impact, but I was honoured to have been asked.

We were speaking to expectant business owners at a Fitness Industry convention, the dawn of the ‘budget club’ had well and truly arrived. Having spent years competing with national operators, the 150, or so, people in the audience now faced a real challenge ‘if I can’t compete on facilities and I can’t compete on price, what can I do?!

Each esteemed and, might I say, carefully selected expert had been asked to prepare a 3-minute introduction to kick-off the discussion. I spent hours preparing mine, well, most of the two hour train journey to the NEC. Imparting my ‘distilled wisdom and simple truths’ I found myself telling the audience ‘you have a fantastic opportunity to compete and carve out your niche in your market place’ – I made a strong emphasis on your to infer that they were in charge of their own destiny. I went to summarise my key lessons as ‘be unique, target your customers and make it easy for them to buy’ And, using their own language, so did pretty much every other panellist. In fact, three of us had made reference to the parallels of going fishing… not much uniqueness in that!

Perhaps the consistency of the message is important – there are no silver bullets – but it got me thinking. What is unique about unique? What do we mean by real difference? What are the implications for the long-term (as well as the short-term) success of your business?

Many business owners start a business because: they intuitively feel there is a gap in the market ‘I couldn’t get what I wanted, so I started a business myself’; or they believe ‘I could do a better job and make more money, if I left this company and did it myself’. The driving force to do it is emotive and strong, often a massive sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo. In their heads they can see it and define it, but articulating it and communicating it is a real challenge. Over a period of time, they develop smart and complicated answers to a question that they often get asked ‘what do you do?’ But ‘people never quite get it’ and the more that this happens the more they take on whatever work they can get for whatever the price – bang goes their uniqueness.

Instead of trying to be unique, perhaps the question ambitious business owners should be asking themselves is how to create an outstanding business? Creating a business that stands out from the outside in and the inside out. It is the obsessive pursuit for the alignment of business purpose and values and the delivery of the customer experience that successful business owners appear to focus on.

What seems to be required are some different questions:

From the inside OUT

  • What problem are you really trying to solve?
  • Why are you trying to solve it?
  • What do you really believe in?
  • What difference do you want to make?
  • What capability, knowledge, relationships or experience do you have that no-one else can replicate?
To being OUT standing
  • Who are you targeting as your ideal customer?
  • What do they really value? What problem are you really trying to solve in their eyes?
  • How will they judge success? What does ‘world class’ of delivery of this value look like?
  • How well do you deliver this value? How could you deliver this more?
To standing OUT
  • Who are your real competitors?
  • How do you stack up against them? How will you win?
  • How can you demonstrate that you are better?
  • What work would you never take on? Why?
Back to OUT side in
  • In a sentence describe why your customers will want you and your competitors will fear you
  • What can you do for your existing and potential ideal customers to allow them to experience your outstanding business?

If you want a different take on the same subject please look at this video.

About adampscampbell
Passionate about helping ambitious business owners to create sustainable success. For information on our work with our broader client base please feel free to look at the website www.telospartners.com To connect more with our work with ambitious business owners follow me @adampscampbell or connect at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=870168

One Response to What is unique about being unique?

  1. Pingback: Simply better – hits the nail on the head « Telos Partners

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