The second section of the Tasks list asks you to define what makes your company remarkably different. “But I’m not,” we hear. “I’m just doing the same thing a dozen other guys are doing down the block!”
Below are some questions to walk you through figuring out why this statement isn’t true. If you want more help like this while you’re writing your plan, click the Plan Setup button on the toolbar and choose a Standard plan (the most detailed) – it will break each Task down into smaller steps.
- Make a list of your direct competitors, people who offer the same product or service to the same target market.
- For each one, write down how you differ from them on quality, selection, price, convenience, customer service, experience, or anything else that matters to your Ideal Customer.
- Make a list of your indirect competitors, people who solve the same problem you do in a different way.
- For each one, write down the advantage you offer over these ways of solving the customer’s problem or meeting their needs.
- Now think – if you could be any other company out there, which one would it be? Is there somebody who is really doing everything right? This will be your model competitor, the one you study to improve your own business.
- Don’t forget to ask your existing customers! When someone comes in, makes a purchase, or completes a contract, just ask: “What did you like about doing business with us? Is there anything you’d like us to do better?” You may be surprised by what you hear.
That’s it. Now you just need to look at all the lists you’ve made and find the patterns. Put it into a sentence or two, thinking about it from your customer’s perspective – what benefit you offer to them, over your competitors.
Maybe you have differences that seem to be problems, yet can be turned around to provide advantages. For example, a small business can offer more personal, customized service than a big, anonymous one. Or maybe your prices are higher than everyone else’s – which reinforces your reputation for offering high quality.
Remember, in some senses, your business is you – what you care about, what you value, what you like about going to work every day. Finding your remarkable difference should be like doing a personality test on your business – fun, easy, and maybe enlightening.