Make Your Competition Irrelevant
What if you could make your competition disappear? You don't need to learn magic to practice this disappearing act. All you need is the ability to look at things differently.
If you are reading this post, there is a good chance you either run your own business or are planning to start one. In that case, you already see things differently and are off to a good start.
Making your competition disappear does take a little work, but it may be easier than you think. It all starts by position your brand.
Take Your Positions Please
Positioning is the way people see your brand* vs. the competition. People will always position you in their own minds. The goal of creating a message, and a brand that represents your message, is to position yourself as the leader or go to for your prospects. When positioning is successful, your prospects automatically think of you when they have a problem that you solve.
Here are a few examples of companies that have positioned themselves extremely well:
Search Engine = Google
Coffee = Starbucks
Social Media = Facebook
Rideshare = Uber
As a small business, you can't successfully position yourself as the global leader in a large segment. You will not be able to be "The Graphic Designer" or "The Web Developer". But don't worry, position is still the most powerful tool you have to separate yourself from the competition and make more money at the same time.
The answer comes from a little word with a disputed pronunciation. Niche.
*Brand = (The image and words that live in peoples mind when they think of your business. Think of branding as your business' clothes, personality, and message.)
A Niche Idea
Niche ("Nitch", "Nish", or "Neesh") means to specialize your offering on a small industry, segment, or problem.
The goal is to focus on solving a specific problem for a specific group of people nobody else is helping. It needs to be a group of people you care about and where you can find ideal customers. You want to find the smallest viable group of people you can who all share a common problem you can solve.
Niching has a lot of advantages. Here are just a few:
Limit competition. Charge more. Find prospects easier. Turn former competition into advocates. Create processes and templates to save time and money. Communicate a clear message since you know exactly who you are serving and what you do for them.
The list goes on and on.
An example of a niche business is a web developer who creates websites that help build trust for local mom and pop auto mechanics.
To Niche Or Not To Niche
Here are all the reasons why you shouldn't niche your small business:
There are NO good reasons not to niche for 99.9% of small businesses. Especially professional services businesses.
The argument is that when you niche you are missing out on opportunities. To share a clear message and create processes that can scale, you have to niche. The broader your offering, the more competition you will have and the less potent your work will be for your customers.
If I have two accountants approach me, which one will be more appealing to me?
"I am an accountant, and I help businesses with their bookkeeping."
"I am an accountant that helps small business consultants make more money by setting up automated processes, simplified bookkeeping, and easy-to-understand reports."
Definitely the second one. Not only that, but I work with a lot of other small business consultants that, if they did a good job, I would be able to refer them to. It is much harder to refer a generalist than it is to refer a specialist.
I recommend niching both the group of people you serve and your offering. Some people are very successful at niching to a specific industry or just niching the product they offer.
For instance, my friend, Brian Wallace - Infographic Expert, only offers infographics. His company, NowSourcing researches, creates, and promotes infographics. They are the number one infographic company in the country. Infographics are specialized enough to where he doesn't need to specialize towards a specific industry.
Don't fix what is working.
Identify An Underserved Market
To eliminate competition you have to make yourself the best and only option. The fasted way to do that is to find a small group of people (industry or specific segment of an industry) that no one else is focusing on. This group of people need to have a problem that has to be solved and be overjoyed that someone is paying attention to them.
A lot of times you can identify the right group to serve by identifying your ideal customers as we discussed in the previous post.
What Problem Are You Solving?
Now that you know who you are helping, what problem are you solving for them? What keeps them up at night? How can you fix that problem for them better than anyone else?
If you find an underserved market and solve a specific problem no one else is solving that needs to be solved, you won't have to worry about competition.
Making It Too Easy
The last step in making your business the obvious choice is to eliminate as much friction as possible. Make it stupidly easy for your prospects to work with you.
The best way to eliminate friction is to productize your offering.
We will cover productizing in the next post.