Do you stand out from your competition? What is your market differentiator? Are you working outside your comfort zone? It has been my experience over the years, that when I ask people these questions I usually get the same answers.
Do you stand out from your competition? Everyone thinks they stand out from their competition. Usually it is because they think they have the best team, or they offer better quality than their competitors. But when put to the test, this is rarely the case, at least not to the point that it is a true market differentiator. Everyone wants their company to be outstanding, but to really be outstanding you must stand out. So ask yourself, what am I doing to make myself standout? What value do I bring to the customer that others do not? You should know the answer to this at any given time on any given day. You should also understand that the market is changing every day, so what might make you different today may not make you different tomorrow.
What is your market differentiator? As previously discussed, this is what makes you stand out and you need to have an answer to this and constantly be testing its viability. I have known many good people that lost rapid market share because they were not constantly monitoring what makes them different and what value they bring to their customers that others cannot. This takes a lot of deep thought and being honest with yourself, which some people have a very hard time doing. I have a sign in my office that says “Thinking is hard work, which is why so few do it!” This is as true a statement as there is since so many business owners don’t take the time to stop and think about where the market is, where is it going, and how will I position myself to be ahead of the changes?
Are you working outside your comfort zone? Without a doubt if you answer no to this question you are on your way to ruin. I just finished reading a book by Mark Cuban called “How to win at the sport of business.” This is an excellent book and I have already suggested it to many people who own, run, or are starting a business. It is a very short and succinct book that gets straight to the point. In one part of the book he talks about how at any given moment there are thousands of other companies who are trying to kill your business. I love that part of the book and this is why you need to live outside your comfort zone and constantly be thinking about what makes you stand out today. Over the years I have mentored many people who have started, rescued, or run businesses and one of the most common things I hear is, “when is this going to get easier?” The answer is never! You must be out there every day blowing your customers away, offering them value that others cannot give, and planning for the future. If there are always thousands of other companies that are trying to kill your business, or at least steal your market share, then you don’t have time to be in a comfort zone. Also, what about the effects of technology on your business? What effect will that have on your value stream and market differentiators?
I can remember not that long ago I knew a woman who had her own successful business. She transcribed doctor’s recordings to a word document. She ran this business, and was one of the top in her field for decades, making a very good living. However, all at once a computer could do this work, or at least to her it was all at once. Now she no longer has that business. Mainly because she spent too much time in the comfort zone and assumed that as long as she was good at her job she would continue to have her business. Technology killed her business and it was a hard lesson for her to learn.
Owning or running a business should never get easy. If it does get easier then you are not trying hard enough. Owning or operating a business isn’t a sprint, it is a career long marathon. Just because you hire people, train people, and build an amazing team you need to continue to push yourself to live outside that comfort zone to stay relevant. To be completely honest, I have never understood the reason for anyone wanting to live inside their comfort zone. If you stop to think about it, the most amazing things in life happen when you are outside your comfort zone, so the more time you spend there, the more amazing moments you will have in your life. Sure it isn’t easy, but no-one ever said it would be easy. Owning or running a business is one of the hardest things you will ever do. It will test you every day, it will consume your entire life, it will make you question your own abilities, but it will also be one of the most rewarding things you can ever do in life. You get to serve people, help people, and help your team live the American Dream! I have said in many articles how hard it is to be the best in anything, but in order to be the best, you have to live outside your comfort zone. In other words in order to be outstanding you must stand out!