01.31.18

How do you stand out? Knowing this answer might just cause you to win $15,000.

Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC

What makes your business one of the best small businesses in your community?

SCORE wants to hear from you, the entrepreneur in the trenches. Entering SCORE’s American Small Business Championship is your time to shine. Two businesses from every state will be chosen to attend a training and networking symposium, where they will learn best business practices from dynamic keynote speakers. The application process is open until February 7, 2018! For more information, visit What Makes Your Business Unique. The NIIC and WEOC serve alongside SCORE in Northeast Indiana’s entrepreneurial space, and we have a terrific and active local chapter. So, connect with them, and find out how you might win $15,000 in cash. Nationally, there will be three grand prizes.

Every month, entrepreneurs launch four to five hundred thousand businesses in our country alone. But without a point or points of difference (differentiation), they are set up for failure. Whether you have been in business for five months or five years, you have to maintain a strong value proposition to survive—and thrive. Today, it is not enough to better than anyone else today, you have to be different. How relevant is your product or service? What does your business offer that others cannot? What pain points do you address? If you don’t have good answers to these questions, now is the time for some introspection and action.

Here are four tips from the best to stand out in a sea of competition and to assist you in submitting your entry into the What Makes Your Business Unique competition:

1.    Learn from the best. Isolate your core competencies and seek out businesses that exemplify that characteristic or business trait. They don’t have to be your competitors or even in the same industry. What matters is that they are capturing significant market share. Take Amazon, for example. They are a leader in the industry because they offer convenience, value, and variety, among other things.

2.    Think benefits, not features. Knowing your customer’s wants and unmet needs is imperative to success. This is why The NIIC recommends uses a robust customer discovery and customer validation process. Consumers don’t really care about X or Y feature. Instead, they want to know how your landscaping service can save them time and allow for more time with their family. Intangibles matter. Evidence of pain, problem or opportunity matters too.

3.    Go beyond the superficial. People are often motivated by emotional or gut feelings. Though logic enters into the equation, ultimately, they are compelled by something more. Think head versus heart. In design thinking, this is called empathy. For example, if you are starting a digital health company, think about how your app or product improves or enhances the patient experience by tapping into how the patient might feel or what anxieties they might be facing.

4.    Explore driving forces. Why do people choose you over a competitor? You might conduct customer surveys (Net Promoter Score), hold focus groups or conduct polls to glean insights into your customer’s behavior. Keep your eyes and ears open and tune into social media channels to monitor feedback. By tapping into customers’ insights and opinions, you can improve and innovate to become more successful.

If you haven’t read Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow. Now is the time, so you can prepare your business to be both memorable and remarkable. Don’t delay, submit your application now for the 2018 Small Business Championship.

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