Earlier this month, I spoke at Exit Planning Institute’s Exit Planning Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. I spoke on how to differentiate your business.
And I took a different approach.
As a professional who has spent the last 15 years in marketing, one could argue the irony of “differentiation” is a bit templated. You can differentiate yourself on a myriad of variables, including, but not limited to:
- Company Size
- Service Offerings
- Client Similarities
- Unique Relationships
- Focus on Certain Business Challenges
- Business Model
- Geographic Focus
- Unique Access to Information
- Team Characteristics/Value
- Best? Cheapest? Fastest?
- Unique Productized Service Offerings
And you can do that. And that’s all well and good and real and valid. It is. But it’s only going to get you so far. If you really want to soar, you’re going to have to do something more. (Did you like my Dr. Seuss there?)
If you really want to differentiate yourself, you have to be willing to be vulnerable, ask yourself some tough questions, and root your differentiation in your truth, as the owner. You, as the owner, must be willing to be different. It’s about you. Not the business.
I believe this question of differentiation is a three-part equation:
Conveniently, I believe this equation also lends itself to another outcome as well: building the life you want for yourself.
In both equations, the variable that makes all of the difference is the owner. You could have the exact same business with the same vision, mission, values, audience, and offerings, and, on its own, that’s going to be difficult to differentiate. But when you add the missing variable of the owner it doesn’t matter how similar - or duplicative - your business infrastructure is, having the unique variable of a different owner can change the entire equation.
With that in mind, no two businesses can possibly be the same when the human element is included because it’s rooted in something that can’t be replicated - authentic human experience.
So let’s break this down.
STEP ONE: DEFINING OWNER SUCCESS
What do you want? What does success look like to you? Not to your neighbor or the others in your industry. To you.
I’ve designed this infrastructure I call the D+A of Success. The definition and alignment of success. First we start with the owner. Then we move to the business. Here’s what this looks like:
Here are the questions to ask yourself as an owner:
- Why do you exist? What is your personal purpose?
- Who do you want to impact?
- What kind of life do you want? You? Your Family? Your Community?
- How are you going to make that happen?
- What matters most to you? Non-negotiables?
- How do you want to show up in the world?
If you feel your definition of success is not captured here, make additional notes for yourself as needed.
STEP TWO: ALIGNING BUSINESS STRATEGY
Once we understand our definition of success, we must then define and align our business strategy to that definition to truly build the lives we want. Take a few minutes to write down your responses to these questions on behalf of your business:
- Why do you exist as a business? (Vision)
- Who do you want to serve? (Audience)
- What problems do you solve for your audience?
- How do you solve them? (Process/Offerings/Mission)
- What values do you operate your business by?
- What is your unique lens?
As you discover the answers to these questions, think about what might need to change in your business strategy to truly align it with your definition of success as an owner. Find the nooks and crannies in your business you can creatively leverage to build the business that will support the life you want.
- Do you need to restructure your offerings to better align with the time commitments and type of work you want to do?
- Do you need to narrow down your ideal audience?
- Do you need to find partners that compliment you so you’re not straying from your Zone of Genius?
STEP THREE: IDENTIFYING YOUR TRUSPEX
As you work through here, what truth(s) are you uncovering? What do you uniquely believe to be true and necessary in order for the work you do to be successful for the people you serve. Your greatest differentiator is your truth. I call this your TruSPEX. The lenses or spectacles for which all internal and external content and processes should be filtered. This is your truth. This is what makes you different. When you apply this to your business, you’re untouchable.
Here’s the basic formula as a reference point:
Earlier this year, I read “Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty and one particular quote really stood out to me. He said “Serve the pain you know.” If thinking through this process is challenging for you, maybe start there. Take a look at your industry. Take a look at your audience. Think about the myriad of problems they’re trying to solve. Then ask yourself “What pain do I know? What pain do I know that others share and I now know how to solve?” Start there. No one has the history you do. No one will feel this in the way you do. Commit to that. Be the best at solving that specific problem in that specific way for that specific audience.
Lean in and change the world.
Kiley Executive Coach & Consultant
Kiley Peters is a serial entrepreneur, national speaker, executive coach, and small business consultant. Having personally counseled over 100 small and medium-sized businesses on operations, business development, digital marketing, and consumer behavior analysis over the last 17 years Kiley is incredibly passionate about serving small business owners. She is the Founder and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a research and business strategy partner for small businesses and mid-market executives, and also created the Work From Home Playbook, a series of online courses guiding aspiring entrepreneurs through the steps of starting a virtual business. With these experiences in her back pocket, she understands the challenges and struggles small business owners encounter.more posts by Kiley →
Small Business, Life
Executive Coaching, Small Business
Executive Coaching, Small Business, Life
Executive Coaching, Small Business