Gone are the days when you can run your business the same way that the “guy down the street” does. You need to know how to set your business apart from the competition and it has to be in a better way than racing to the bottom with the lowest price. There are many strategies that entrepreneurs can put into play to make their business “be” different from the competition even if you’re both selling the same widgets to the same base of clients.
How To Set Your Business Apart From The Competition
What are you doing to stay ahead of your business competitors? What is your differentiator? What steps can you take to truly make a difference and have an impact that will make your business soar?
Have faith in yourself and in your success and, most importantly, in the goods and services you offer. Your faith and your belief in yourself will shine in every conversation you have.
Don’t quit. Even if you try something that doesn’t work or doesn’t work the way you’d hoped it would — it is NOT a failure. It was an experiment from which you can learn, strengthen and move forward.
Be ethical. There is no “winning” if you cut down the competition to gain a customer. You and your business need to stand on its own merit. A potential client will not look fondly upon you if you’re bad mouthing the “other guy.”
Make a decision. Entrepreneurs cannot afford to sit on the fence. They need to be decisive — yes, even if that decision turns out to not offer the outcome you’d originally hoped for. You decided. Moved forward and you can course correct if necessary.
Be healthy in mind and body. Yes, entrepreneurs need to put in a lot of hours to be successful BUT if you’re not taking time for yourself and your mental and physical health you will not thrive. You need to operate at peak levels and this means you need to eat healthy. You need to get physical exercise and you need to sleep. Don’t forget your personal life and make time for friends and family.
What can you, or do you, do to set your business apart from the competition?
Have you ever wondered how to build your email list? Have you ever wondered, why do I even need an email list? If these questions have come up, and chances are if you are anywhere online you will have heard the conversations around “list building” and you may wonder how it will help your business grow.
If you have a website and if you are driving traffic to your website and if you are not capturing the emails of those who visit your site, you are missing out on potential new clients. Visitors to your site could potentially convert into customers and one way to do that is to get them on your list. To do that, you need to offer an “ethical bribe” to get them to give up their email address and take the chance on being on your mailing list.
- Offer great value. Rather than having your sign up box say, “Sign up to receive my weekly XYZ Newsletter” make it a value-add. Tell them why they should sign up. Offer great value. For example, “Do you want to save time and make more money? Our weekly tips offer actionable ways to do just that. Sign up to get started.” You’ve offered value and incentive.
- Be clear. Don’t offer “time and money saving tips” but talk about “50 ways to jump start your business idea.” The ethical bribe and the sign up information should be cohesive.
- Offer a discount to subscribers. If you have a course or a webinar or an inperson seminar on the horizon, offer “money off” to those who sign up for your newsletter. Money savings is a great incentive.
- Include a call to action. Once your email or auto responder message reaches the new subscriber, have a call to action (other than the “confirm you wanted this message”). They have just signed up. They are invested in what you have to offer. Strike while the iron is hot.
- Offer a money back guarantee. If you’re selling a product or service, offer a bullet proof money back guarantee. This gives the subscriber and individual paying for your course a way to feel good about the purchase and it also pushes you to provide the highest quality goods or services.
Do you have a way to capture emails? Once you have them on your list are you offering newsletter content that is of value? If you’re struggling with this, reach out to us, we can help!
Five Hard Things About Being An Entrepreneur
It’s great to be your own boss. It’s difficult to be your own boss. When you’re an entreprenuer you need to be willing to take the good with the bad.
Here are five hard things about being an entrepreneur that will get easier with time and experience.
- You are responsible for everything. As the boss you have no one to turn to if something goes awry other than yourself. You’re making the decisions. You are the person at the top and the buck stops with you. You will work long hours and will have to make sacrifices when you’re starting out — it comes with the territory of being solely responsible.
- Once you can hire staff or contractors, you will find it difficult to delegate. It’s been you running the show for so long it will be hard to give it to someone else to take over.
- Starting from scratch or buying into an existing business are vastly different. You need to decide which you’re more comfortable with and make that decision. Buying an existing business means there will likely be policies and procedures in place and if there is existing staff that may make for an easy transition. BUT if you want to come in and make changes, you will need to be prepared for push back and hearing “that’s not how we do it.”
- Being willing to take risks. IF you’re not a risk taker, it may be more difficult to run a business than you may have imagined. Keep in mind, “no risk. No reward.” You don’t want to make foolish risks, but you do need to be willing to try something new, experiment and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, start again and learn from your mistakes.
- Handling money. It is tempting when you’re just starting out to want to go big with your business. You want to rent office space. Invest in office furniture and go all in. That’s great, but I urge you to start out on a shoestrong and grow when the cash flow allows. You also need to build a team and on that team should be a financial advisor/bookkeeper/CPA. Don’t get on the wrong side of the IRS. Put good financial practices into place before you depost your first dollar.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge when you were starting out?
We all have those customers that we love working with, right? We also all have those clients or customers that we wince when we see their name show up on our cell phone or in our appointment book. How well do you know your customer? How would you like to work with a majority of clients or customers who make you happy and bring you joy? It’s easiest to do this if you know who your ideal client is, what they need and want from you and how you can deliver.
What makes for an ideal customer?
- They come to you for more than your price.
- They stick with you long term.
- They are willing and happy to try new products or services you offer.
- They continually boy.
- They know what they want.
- They pay on time.
If you’re looking for ideal customers or clients, you may need to divest your business of those clients who drain your energy and bring nothing to the table. How can you spot a client who is not idea?
- They are never satisfied.
- They continually ask for more but want to pay for less
- They aren’t financially stable and you are continually in money-chase mode
- They don’t value what you do and how to do it
- They rarely offer good word of mouth to potential clients.
How can you rid your business of less than ideal clients?
- Raise your prices
- Be unavailable for their phone calls or meetings
- Offer them an introduction to a business partner who may be a better fit
- Be direct. “I just don’t think we are a good fit.”
When was the last time you needed to break up with a client that just wasn’t a good fit? How did you do it? Were you able to move past the break up and remain friendly?
How To Network In Social Settings
If you’ve ever wondered how to network in social settings or even if you should look at a social setting as a way in which to network, I am hear to tell you that you certainly can… as long as you do it right. You certainly don’t want to attend a family wedding and walk around handing out business cards like they are wedding favors, but you can strike up a conversation and let a contact know who you are and what you do.
How To Network In Social Settings
- When you’re traveling look for networking opportunities. Use the time on a plane or cooling your heels in an airport to strike up a conversation. You never know who you’re sitting next to and what the potential for a networking connection is. The person you’re next to could also benefit from knowing you — keep that in mind if you’re feeling shy of striking up a conversation.
- Add value to others. Remember, ask about what the other person does. Get to know them. If you feel you can add value to their business or personal life based on your business then by all means speak up.
- Being at a conference is the ideal place to network — in fact it’s almost expected that you will hand out a business card and introduce yourself to others. Don’t attend an event without a plan in mind for how you want to connect and with whom.
- Seek out opportunities to network. Standing in line at the grocery store could be a way to network. If you’re in the business section of the local bookstore, strike up a conversation, “Hey I see you’re looking at XYZ business book, that really helped me when I starting out in my business… oh here is another one I’d recommend.” You’re not overtly shoving your business card in their face, but you are making a connection and adding value.
- Be authentic. No one wants to talk with a huckster. Be authentic. Genuinely listen to what they’re saying and ask “getting to know you” questions.
When is the last time you found a way to network that might not have been an ordinary networking situation? We’d love to hear!
Be A Business Resource. If you’re an entrepreneur the best thing you can be to a potential client is to be a business resource. Why? Because you will become the go-to expert.
Here are some strategies to be a business resource for your customers and potential customers:
- Remember the customer. They are buying because they need what you’re selling — not because you have it to sell. Keep customers front of mind, always, in all transactions.
- Talk to your customers. Uncover the real reasons behind why they turn to you when they’re seeking a solution. Weave their stories into your business narrative.
- Ask questions. You won’t know what your clients truly want unless you ask. Use the answers to those questions to more finely tune your offerings.
- Listen to what your customers say. Read the reviews written bout your business. Learn from them and make changes to better your offerings — if the feedback is viable and credible.
- Analyze and learn from what’s worked… and from what hasn’t. If you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, you will make no progress toward success.
When is the last time you talked with a client to see the real reasons for why they work with you? When is the last time you discussed the ways in which your products and services benefit a customer. When did you last ask for input on what wasn’t working when a client reached out? You can learn from praise as well as comments that may feel negative.