Can you believe it’s August already? We hope you’ve been having a nice summer so far – why not pour yourself a nice glass of something refreshing and read some of the small business blog posts and articles we liked this week?
Many start-ups and established businesses alike have one common concern: How do I help my business stand out from my competitors? In a crowded market, it’s important to find sustainable strategies to differentiate your business from others.
Here are 3 ways you can help your small business stand out from your competitors.
1) Identify as specific a niche as you can
Many entrepreneurs identify their businesses as being in a broader industry. Understanding your industry is important, as it’ll help you determine the factors that can influence your business decisions. However, when it comes to standing out, it’s important to find a specific niche. For example, your fitness studio may seem like any other fitness studio to prospective clients. But what if they knew you ran a fitness studio that had a specific focus on designing programs to help people with chronic pain exercise safely? That would really set you apart from your competitors, wouldn’t it?
2) Ask your existing customers for their perspective
Who better to tell you how you stand out than the loyal and happy customers you already have? Depending on your customer base, this can take the form of a casual chat with your regulars, or a more structured customer feedback survey – try a modified version of our quick eight-part customer survey. You may be surprised at the specific things your customers identify as your differentiating factors. Outside perspective can be immensely valuable!
3) Consider a pivot
What if your customers uncover an area for improvement, or give you a great idea for helping your business stand out that you haven’t thought of yet? It may be time to pivot. A core component of the lean start-up methodology, pivoting is a useful way to iterate quickly based on customer feedback. Whether it’s a different platform, new technology, a new product feature, or something else, pivoting can identify a perfect way to help you stand out in a crowded market.
Want to learn more about things like identifying your industry, picking a niche, customer satisfaction, and lean start-up? Check out our industry-leading small business training video program.
“It isn’t where you came from. It’s where you’re going that counts.”
– Ella Fitzgerald, American jazz singer
Even though Ella Fitzgerald wasn’t an entrepreneur herself, she was a trailblazing inspiration to many, and revolutionized her industry. We think that her enterprising spirit in the music industry can inspire all entrepreneurs to plan, learn, and focus on your goals.
Pitching to potential investor or customers can be nerve-wracking, and we recommend getting as prepared as you can. Start with these 7 essential tips for making a small business pitch.
Tips for making a small business pitch
Know your business. You should be able to describe your business model, explain what unique need your small business fills, who your competition is and your marketing and sales plan – to name a few.
Know your numbers. Have a basic understanding of financial elements like yearly sales (volume and dollar amount), cash flow projection and net worth.
Research your potential investor or customer. Get to know who you’re pitching to as much as possible, so you can speak accurately to what they’re looking for – and so you know what issues may arise.
Be concise. You might have five minutes to make a pitch, or you might have 30 seconds. Prepare a few pitches of varying lengths that get the point across and still sound compelling.
Put yourself in their shoes. If you were being pitched to, what questions would you ask? Make a list of these questions to help you become better prepared.
Practice! Go through your pitch in front of your business partners, trusted friends or family – or even in front of your mirror. Don’t worry about memorizing your “speech,” but focus on pinpointing strengths or missing pieces. Some cities even have networking groups where entrepreneurs just like you can practice their pitches.
Act natural! Making pitches is a lot like public speaking, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying. Just be professional, friendly and try to relax!