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The year 2015 is slowly reaching its end and 2016 is moving closer. Have you though about your business goals? If you want to make your business outstanding and dominate the market or even the word, you are on the right place. In this article, I will give you four advices on how to turn your business idea or company into something you’ve never dreamed before. Remember, it is okay to dream big if you are willing to work for it. Without further ado, let’s build your dream.
Create Barriers to Entry
Let’s start with one of the best ways to make your business conquer the next year as well as every following. You have to make it hard for anyone to compete your business. How? The most straightforward, and sometimes the hardest, way is to create barriers to entry. Whether these barriers will be artificial or somewhat natural, it doesn’t matter. You need to make sure they are high enough to discourage everyone just thinking about entering this market segment.
Unfortunately, this strategy will be difficult to apply to mainstream types of businesses. If you want to make your business outstanding, building it on copying some already existing product will not work. When you enter already existing market segment, instead of creating new one, it is almost impossible to artificially create barriers to entry. What’s more, there will already be competitors with better market position and stronger customer base. So, should you forget about your idea and starting your own business?
Not so fast. There might still be a solution, even if your whole business model is based on selling something that’s very similar to existing product or service. This solution is to come up with some way to distinguish your product in a big way. You have to make your product so different, it will be able to create and sustain new category. This is something Al Ries was talking about in his book The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing. Simply said, if you can’t be the first on the market, create your own category for your product. That way, you will become the first on this new small market. You will also be able to create barriers to entry and make your business hard to compete with.
On the other hand, what if you have some new groundbreaking idea? The best way to make your business dominate, even create a monopoly, is to build it business on secret. This secret can be anything from cooking recipe for your restaurant or special manufacturing process to using special fabric. Want some examples? Think about Coca-Cola Company, KFC, McDonald’s or RedBull. They all use specific ingredients that make it harder for other companies to compete with them. These secrets are so strong, without them these companies wouldn’t be able to exist for a long time.
This concept of building your business on secrets is something I borrowed from Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One. If you are interested in business, this book is definitely worth reading. Anyway, building your company around (or on) secret is better than relying on other types of barriers. Secrets will make your business more resilient because they are harder to crack. When you face some barrier, all you need is time, effort and perseverance and soon, you will get through.
This brute-force attack “strategy” is much more difficult to be applied on secrets. In case of barriers, you are not going completely blind. You know, at least partially, how does that barrier look like. So, when you want to find a way around it, you have some information to work with. On the other hand, when you want to crack some secret, you have to start with blank slate. There is almost nothing you can draw upon. Sure, in examples of food and drink companies above, you can taste their products and try to reverse-engineer the fundamental secret behind it.
The downside of this approach is that it will take a lot of time and resources. It is possible that you’ll waste your resources before even starting. How do you want to make your business outstanding without resources and already exhausted? That’s like spending whole day on the track doing sprints the day before you will run a marathon. Doing so will not make you a marathon winner. It will kill you. When you think about it, this may be the reason why no one was able to put Coca-Cola Company out of business since it was founded in 1886.
Takeaway: To make your business outstanding and dominate either create a barriers to entry or build it on some secret. Make it hard for other businesses to enter the market.
Divide Et Impera
If you are like me, you don’t want to make your business only good. You want it to conquer and dominate the world. First, there is nothing wrong with this idea. Second, you have to act in direct opposite. What does that mean? Instead of going for the biggest piece of a market, you have to niche down. Narrow your focus on small market segment you can dominate with relatively low effort. This niche can be related to specific skill, location, age and so on.
To understand why this strategy is much better than going the opposite direction, let’s take a look at Facebook. When Facebook started, back in 2004, it was only available to the students of Harvard University. Only when the majority of local students were its users, Facebook expanded to Ivy League and Stanford University. Avoid making the mistake I did and considering this as having low ambitions. In a fact, it was incredibly clever move from Mark. What the hell?
By starting with this smaller “pond”, Mark was able to avoid direct confrontation with already established social networks like MySpace or Friendster. This move allowed him to build the base of users slowly, but progressively. As time went by, Facebook continuously grew out of side of the public. Then, when the right moment came, the expansion began. And, the rest is history. So, if you want to make your business outstanding, you had better adopt this approach.
Find out what core need is your product addressing. Go as narrow as you can and focus on smaller market segments first. Find out who is your perfect customer by developing extreme user persona. Avoid the mainstream. Instead, have enough courage to go for the edges. Your goal is to find customers so enthusiastic for your product, they will even get your brand tattooed. Does that sound crazy? Who cares. The message is simple. If you want to make your business great, you have to start small. Otherwise, you may die fighting with more established companies.
Takeaway: Make your business outstanding by thinking big, but starting small. Instead of trying to dominate the whole market, pick a small segment and start with it.
Create Base of Evangelists
In the previous tip I mentioned focusing on evangelists. What’s the difference between a regular customer and evangelist? Let me use definition borrowed from Wikipedia. An evangelist promotes the use of a particular product or technology through talks, articles, blogging, user demonstrations, recorded demonstrations, or the creation of sample projects. In other words, customer will buy your products and can mention them here and there. On the other hand, evangelist will actively promote it and spread the word about your product.
Evangelist is your key to the expanding your customer base. Sure, you can hire some great marketer or growth hacker and give him budget to play with. Unfortunately, such an advertising will never beat the power of word of mouth generated by enthusiastic users. Think about it. Which product would you consider to buy? One you saw in ad somewhere or one your friend praises constantly? If you trust your friend, you will at least take a look at that product and learn more about it. This is how the power of evangelists looks like.
So, can you create base of evangelists artificially? I don’t think so. In order for evangelist to look and behave authentically, they must have real desire and passion for your product and brand. If they don’t have them, it doesn’t matter how much money will you pay them. It will just not work that well. The only way to develop this type of fans is to know how do they look like. Do you remember that part about extreme user persona? Apply this tactic here as well. Create incredibly precise image of your most loyal user. Then, move backwards.
Meaning, instead of trying to sell your product to different customers to find better fit, reverse it. Customize your product according to the persona of your target customer. Think about what their needs, pains and desires are and make your product the best fit for them. When you think about it, this is very similar to what Lean startup approach looks like. You look for problems people may have (potential customers) and then develop and customize your product based on these findings.
So, don’t be afraid to customize your product or even change direction in order to make your business outstanding next year. To encourage yourself, remember all those successful business based on pivots such as Twitter, Paypal, Instagram, Flickr, Groupon, Nintendo or Suzuki. Sometimes, changing your product may be the secret to get ahead.
One more thing, remember to reward people for using your products. This is something I cannot stress enough. You have to make your customers feel you care about them. Having said that, don’t confuse caring with sending promotional materials. That’s just another way to advertise and try to sell more of your products. Better thing to do is to ask on how satisfied are they with your product. If you are selling some game or app, congratulate them on their successes. Also, get in touch with your user on birthdays and holidays (not to advertise).
All of these actions should be done with one goal… To make your customers feel important and appreciated. If you are still unsure, look at it from business point of view. Which customer is more likely to buy more of your products, extend ending subscription and recommend your products to their family, friends and colleagues? Only customer that feels appreciated and important.
Takeaway: Focus on building large group of evangelist that will actively promote your products and brand and spread the word about them with passion. Remember … They are your best investment.
Set the Bar Incredibly High
Let’s suppose you have a great vision, tenacity and perseverance. How can you use all these factors to make your business outstanding? Set the bar so high, it will be hard to reach it even for yourself. This is something that Apple was doing for a long time. This was also what helped it keep its competitors in behind. The simple fact is that excellent quality is very hard, if not impossible, to imitate or copy. Creating outstanding products require a lot of effort and time and most of your competitors will not be willing or able to follow through. Not in the long-term.
When we talk about quality, it is not only about the products your company is selling. In order to make your business really great, you have to set the quality bar incredibly high in all departments. Nothing is too inferior or barely visible to be skipped. Most companies think about this only in terms such as products, customer support, marketing and employee development. Sure, all of these areas should be always executed in exceptional way. Unfortunately, this is not enough. There are still areas left to mediocrity you have to work on.
To illustrate what I mean, think about the layers that a regular company contains. Even better, think about all the jobs that must be performed to keep the business going. Okay, let me put it straight. I am talking about the culture, environment and atmosphere inside your company. When you take a walk inside your company, how do you feel? Is the environment neat and clean? Are people friendly and passionate about what they do? When I go to a restaurant I have a simple routine or habit to follow. I always check the toilets first. I’m serious.
What’s the reason behind these toilet visits? No, I have no problems with constipation, small bladder or anything like that. When I visit the toilet, my goal is to find out how the place is maintained. Here’s the thing. Many businesses are able to keep the quality of their products, services and other business matters high. However, they often miss the smaller details. That’s why I check the toilets when going to restaurants. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the interior is or how tasty is the food. If toilets look like a place you are afraid to go without vaccination, they failed.
Use this approach and make your business outstanding by setting the quality bar incredibly high for every detail. From creating great products, designing beautiful packaging, providing excellent customer service, nurturing amazing culture, keeping your employees happy to clean toilets, floors and empty bins. Does it sound crazy or as a clear sign of perfectionism? Well, that’s the price you sometimes have to pay. Get used to it or don’t try to build outstanding business.
Takeaway: High quality in every detail is hard to imitate. By setting the bar incredibly high you will naturally make your business outstanding and more resistant to competition.
Closing Thoughts on How to Make Your Business Outstanding
There will be sacrifices you have to make if you want to make your business outstanding. Like it or not, it is impossible to achieve greatness in anything without withstanding some pain. You’ll need to be willing to ask yourself if you have what it takes, if you can take your idea to the end. Without that, there is no chance your business will become the dominate power in the world. I hope that this article will encourage you to summon all your capabilities and follow your ideas.
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