Competition is KEY!

How does your business fit into the marketplace? I talk to small business owners frequently about this and it’s evident that most fledgling businesses aren’t prepared to answer that question. How are you prepared to answer that question?

I recall a time in Las Cruces when the first Wal-Mart Super Center in town had moved to a bigger location and the second super center was under construction. I know that many people were up in arms with the typical, “big box is shutting down small business,” rationale that tends to prevail when one of those businesses comes to town. My father-in-law and I were discussing this when he made an interesting remark that really made me think. He said that those big box stores can’t be everything to everybody and small business can compete if they know how. My father-in-law who ran a small cash register/timeclock business, “Cole’s the Cash Register” in south Texas talked about how small business can thrive in an environment with a big box retailer but they need to understand what their own strengths are before they give up. In other words, they need to know how to compete!

This really made me think… Do YOU know how to compete with big box retailers, or with competitors of ANY size? What sets you apart from your competition? Knowing what sets you apart from your competitors is part of the fundamental framework that you need to know about your business. This principle is called your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or what YOU do better than your direct competition. As a chamber of commerce, we work with small businesses to help them effectively articulate this important aspect of their business and, if necessary, we can help you define your USP so that you can begin to win new customers for your small business.

How do you determine your USP for your business today? Think about the products you sell against all of the other products in your lineup. What is the biggest seller that you have? I have a favorite restaurant in another city that makes the best Red Enchiladas. This place has other products on their menu that are all really tasty. However, the Red Enchiladas are almost as good as my Mom’s red enchiladas. Every time I go to that restaurant, I have the Red Enchiladas and I see that most people are also having the Red Enchiladas. In MY mind Red Enchiladas are that restaurant’s USP. In your case, you just need to think about the most requested, most innovative, best selling or most unique item that you offer. That item could be your USP.

Competition is the catalyst to business growth because it is the fire under your backside that keeps you running and thinking innovatively. Posted on the wall in the sales office of a company for which I used to work was the mantra, “If you’re not serving your customer you better be serving someone who is!” Service was the Unique Selling Proposition for this company, and we needed to always be reinforcing our customer relationships by doing what we did best. If you are always leading with your best then your competition can’t touch you.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I have a fundamental approach to business. The fundamentals are what keep you healthy and conditioned for whatever situation you are faced with. The Silver City Grant County Chamber of Commerce can help you to pare down your process to get to the basics of your business. Fundamentally speaking you need to welcome competition. Competition keeps you shooting for the stars and the fundamentals of business make sure you have a firm landing zone at the end of the day.