Starting a successful business requires much more than a great idea. Can you define your innovation in the market?
Most people start with a predefined idea in their head about what they want to sell. The reality is the world may not be waiting for your product or service. Can you define what you will you do, what value will you create that makes you different from similar businesses? Identify exactly what benefits you are delivering: better service, more convenient location, innovative design, hands on training? Then validate your hypothesis with customer discovery. Figure out who are your target customers. Never assume you know what your customer wants, unless you have asked. Invest time upfront asking questions and gathering critical feedback. Data driven decisions will beat guesswork every time.
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Once you have found a strategy to differentiate your business, it is time to craft your brand. Invest your time and money wisely to get it right from the start. Engage family, friends and potential customers to provide brainstorming and feedback during the creative process. Start with these basics:
- Perfect the pitch: define the problem you are solving that is worth paying for. Compose a 60 second soundbite that clearly spells out what you do and 3 benefits of your brand or service.
- Select a winning name: Make it simple to say and easy to spell. Choosing Zwyega is a bad idea. Creative is one thing, obscure means no one will find you. Check out domain availability before you land on a name. Consider what your business does for a service. There is a reason businesses use the word “salon” or “spa” in their name – to make it easy for customers to find you. Be certain the name has a positive connotation for your business. Atlas Massage may send a mixed message, make sure to choose words that suggest a clear visual relationship.
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You are ready to launch your business in a growing niche market. Out of the blue a friend sends you a link to a similar new product or service. After your initial shock, head over and evaluate the competition. Move into discovery mode and look under the hood of the competitor’s engine. That knowledge may add a creative spark to your thinking. Or it may serve to confirm that you’re bringing an authentic solution for a customer want or need at precisely the right time.
Take a short drive and see what makes them tick. Scope out their website and metatags. Appraise how they tell their story. Are they solving the pain point in a novel way? If you compete in a new market segment with low barriers to entry, understand the incremental features and benefits promised. How does that compare to the “must have” features you learned in your customer discovery? Tap into their social networks and get a feel for their buzz.
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Is it time to refresh your selling approach to clients and customers? Plan to optimize your process prior to your next meeting.
1. Not being prepared.
You did not answer my “unasked questions” within the first two minutes of our meeting:
- why are you here (purpose)?
- what is going to happen in our meeting (process)?
- what’s in it for me (payoff)?
- how long is this meeting going to take (validate time expectations/constraints)?
Continue reading “5 Reasons You Struck Out”