Setting Your Business Apart
Running a business is no easy task. Keeping track of employees, making sales, generating new leads, and balancing a budget while also growing your business isn’t something that everyone can do. If you are a business owner, congratulate yourself, because you are doing something that not many are up to. This doesn’t mean it will come easy to you, but it means that you have set yourself to a task worth doing.
One question that many business owners find themselves asking after the grand opening is; “How can I set my business apart?” Unfortunately, many competitors will have similar products, services, and price points. However, as you get to know your business and your market more, in addition to following these tips, you can find real ways to differentiate and grow your business.
The first step in setting your business apart is setting yourself apart. The hardest part of running a small business, especially at the start, is the fact that the business and your personal life are often intertwined. Many of your customers and associates will fail to see the distinction between John Doe and Doe Inc., but you can easily use that to your advantage.
If you can work on becoming more personable and relatable to your potential customers and/or collaborators, you can set your business up for success. Don’t be afraid to be friendly, crack a few jokes, and tell a few anecdotes, let those interested in your business become interested in you as a person and watch that interest quickly turn into investment.
In addition to being personal, you must also be accessible. When overseeing an infantile business, availability may seem like an impossible goal. However, it is a necessary goal to achieve. A key component of accessibility is making sure that you as an owner have time to handle the indirect responsibilities of owning and operating a business. Not every responsibility of ownership is tangible and do-able in office. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to put your name and face out there. Support other business and get to know the community that you are attempting to reach.
Accessibility also means that you have a responsibility to meet your customers on their level. This means that your phone number should be listed, your website launched, and your schedule kept somewhat open. Make sure that potential customers are able to find you and your business with relative ease.
Find Your Mission
What is the point of your business? Why did you start it? Who does it benefit and how?
If you cannot readily answer these three questions, you have a severe problem. These are the questions that your potential customers and partners will be asking themselves about your business. If the answer is not readily accessible and clear to them, they may not stick around.
The fact of the matter is that people like investing in passionate people and their endeavors. If your business helps support a good cause, even if it’s just feeding your own kids, people will gravitate towards it. If your business doesn’t have a clear purpose, you’re offering no “feel-good” incentive for people to invest in. Make sure you have a handle on your mission and broadcast that to all who will hear.
Differentiate Your Products and Services
Don’t be the same as everyone else. That’s an easy piece of advice to grasp, right? It’s a cliché even, but it is a necessary one. If your salad is the same price, just as healthy and just as filling as Salad Hut and Sue’s Salads, then why would anyone bother coming to your restaurant instead of your competition’s? The answer is they wouldn’t, they’d merely gravitate towards whatever was quicker. The truth here is that you don’t need a cool name or creative ways of minimizing the cost put into a salad to sell more salads. The only thing you need is a way to differentiate what you offer versus what they offer. Sell your salad with a free breadstick or throw in a free water bottle. You don’t need heavy investment to outmaneuver the competition, you just need a little outside of the box thinking.
Blogging is a great way to make you, as a business owner, and your business more accessible. A blog allows you to share your thoughts on an endless variety of topics in real time. Does a major breakthrough occur in your industry? Write to your audience about it. Does a shocking report about your industry come out? Write to your audience about it, and let them know how it effects your business.
Blogging is a great way to address customer comments, concerns, and frequently asked questions. Blogging also helps give your business a personality. A blog lets your customers know what you are about. You can share your knowledge, passions, and opinions to an audience that is hungry to know them. You can then channel this attention and energy back into your business.
Don’t be afraid to be a cheerleader. This applies to being a cheerleader not only for your business, but for your audience as well. This may seem difficult if you don’t specifically know who your audience is or exactly what it is they want. Daily or weekly videos uploaded to social media allow for you to share your thoughts on behalf of your audience.
Videos are also a great way to highlight the aspects of your business that are exciting or unique. Take the time to film yourself, your products, and even your office life. Let your internet audience get an extra look at the workings of the business they are considering buying into. This extra look is also a great way to emphasize your mission and how your business benefits the world around you.
If you haven’t gotten on board with social media by this point, you haven’t been running your business to its maximum potential. The simple fact of the matter is that billions (that’s right) of potential customers are using social media. On top of that, these users rely on social media to direct them to new business, to engage with those business, and to engage with the communities around those businesses. Social Media is a crux of the modern business world. It is your responsibility to your business to utilize this crux.
The best part is that most social media sites charge nothing to create a profile or page. It is free, and therefore you have zero excuses for not diving into the world of social media. It may seem like a gargantuan environment to dive right into, but it is perhaps the most important step you can take for your business, and it is instrumental in helping your business to stand out.
Social Media Engagement
So you have a social media profile, now what?
Social media is designed around engagement. This engagement occurs whenever you post something to your timeline or feed. This engagement occurs whenever someone else likes, comments, or shares your post. Engagement occurs constantly and with endless variety. Fortunately, engagement is also simple and easy to do. Ask questions, answer other’s questions and continue to react to what you see on your business’ social media profile. This not only helps your business to reach new audiences, but it helps it to reach those audiences in a positive and friendly light.
Similar to social media engagement, networking is an instrumental part of setting your business apart. Networking can occur on social media; in fact any social media platform is a ripe engagement for it. However, small businesses thrive on real, person-to-person networking. One of the best things you can do to set your business apart is to be seen in the community.
Support other businesses. Volunteer for worthy causes. Donate to positive charities. Let you and your business be seen putting in real work that positively impacts the community. Don’t use these events to push your business, but understand that the presence of your business, even a quiet one, sends a very strong message to potential customers and clients.
Another component of networking is collaboration. A single business may be in competition with a few other businesses, but it can be in collaboration with countless more. Like social media, collaboration may take many forms. It is important that you find ways to support other business and that you are readily available to receive their support. Build goodwill with other business owners and commit to growing your businesses together.
Whether you’re releasing a product with another company, speaking at another business owner’s event, or trading products and/or services, collaboration is an essential element of making your business stand out from the competition.
Speaking of competition…
While collaboration is essential to helping your business stand out and to networking, competition is essential to your business’ sustainability and longevity. The world of business is not always a kind one. Some competitors will always be wealthier and better resourced. The market won’t always be able to support every business on the same level of success. However, a business that is driven to compete can survive the tide, no matter how severe.
Remember that the things about your business that make it different are the same things that will help it to survive. Use those differences to give your business a leg up on the competition.
Make sure that your website is up to date. This sounds simple, but many people are operating their websites on technology that is no longer relevant. Just because your website looks good on the Vista machine you have at home, doesn’t mean it will look good on the Windows 10 laptops that a majority of your customers will be operating on. Fortunately, website management has never been easier than it is right now.
Most hosting platforms and websites are already equipped with the tools to automatically update the appearance and technical specifications of your website automatically. If you are not using a reliable and up to date hosting platform, it is time to upgrade. By allowing your website to be out of date, you are performing a disservice both to you and your audience. Don’t lose out on customers and income because you’re afraid of switching.
Graphics are an essential element to everything your business does. Be it website design, social media posts, or even the style of your logo, graphics are essential to setting your business apart. Graphics help catch the attention of potential customers far more effectively than long chains of text ever will. Think of graphics as the worm at the end of a hook. The graphic is what lures the fish in so that the hook can do it’s work and help reel the fish in. So, whether it be a meme, a logo, or an infographic, utilize graphics to help reel in customers more efficiently.
Know Your Stuff
Make sure that you are your business’ number one expert. This means that you should always have a clear understanding of your business’ mission, products, services, strengths, and weaknesses. You should know your business and what makes it unique almost as well as you know yourself.
No business ever truly perfect. Neither is any marketing plan, product launch, lead generation strategy, nor any road to success perfect. Because of this simple fact, perfection should never be your goal. Why? Because goals are meant to be attained, not unreachable.
Instead, remember that your business isn’t something to be made perfect but that it is something to be continuously perfect. Regularly take the time to carve out your business’s strengths and weakness. Seek out the areas in which your business is succeeding and where it is failing. When you can isolate these areas, you can begin to adapt your business to better suit those strengths and eliminate those weaknesses. A large portion of making your setting your business apart is finding ways for it to operate with greater success and with greater attention to detail.