Small businesses aren't unique anymore. Recent economic studies have proven that within what many are calling the “new economy”, more and more people are becoming self employed. In fact, this trend is so powerful that some experts say almost everyone will be self employed in the future. What does this mean? It means you have a very high chance of becoming irrelevant if you don’t take action.
You think you have competition now?
Wait until 10x more people enter your local market. There is a big shift happening around the world as many people abandon the corporate world for a more flexible and self-reliant lifestyle by starting a small business.
However, there is a silver lining in all of this because it is a statistical fact that the majority of the people who start these businesses will perform their services at a relatively low level. What do I mean by “low level”? Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, most small business owners, probably including you, think they are performing at a “high level” and think are better than their competition at everything. There is one small problem with this fact, their customers do not agree.
In fact, 80% of companies say they deliver “superior customer service” but, only 8% of their customers agree. Simply put, only a small majority of businesses are actually “wowing” their customers whilst almost all of them think that they are. I smell an opportunity.
The temptation here is to raise up our metaphorical hands with a hive mentality and yell to our local customers that sounds like, "We can place a bid on that job, too.” There is the fear of becoming replaced by the flood of new companies coming into the market place, so what do we do? Typically people do one of the following:
- Complain (and feel sorry for themselves)
- Lower their prices
What if I told you it wasn’t necessary to do any of these things? The trick to break out of this pool of look-a-like companies is to simply walk away from the herd and create your own herd of one.
Rather than saying me too, start with I alone.
“Mrs. Smith, we are the only company in the area that answers the phone within two rings.”
“Mr. Jones, we are the only company in the country that follows a six-point quality system to guarantee a job well done.”
I like to call this process of walking away from the herd, “de-commoditizing” your small business. A commodity is something where its value lies entirely in its price, weighed against supply and demand. When people shop for a basic loaf of bread they simply look at the choices and choose the one with the lowest price, lets say $1.00.
Why, then, are there still companies selling a loaf of bread for $5? Become that company.
The devil is in the details, as they say, and it’s especially true for your business. You need to take a step back, and look at your business from a bird’s eye view. What can you do differently from the other similar businesses in your market? What can you do for your clients that takes their eyes off of the price and puts them on you and your unique service proposition (USP)?
"Lose the ego, ditch the excuses and create your own herd of one by becoming absolutely fascinating to your clients in a way that cannot be easily copied."
When you “de-commoditize” your small business, you get to make the rules and you get to set the prices. You also gain control of the supply, because after all, there is only one company that does things like you do. Imagine if you controlled 100% of the bread supply in your home town. That would be very profitable right? By setting yourself up as a unique and interesting service provider, and focusing on the little things, you are essentially doing the same thing.
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