Graphic artist Harvey Pekar, famous for the highly observational slice-of-life series of comic strips, American Splendour, once observed two removals men chatting about one of their girlfriends. The first remarked that she was of an average intelligence with the second replying with “Average? Average is dumb!”
The phrase “average is dumb” doesn’t really make sense, that said it is probably a very accurate assessment of the current climate when it comes to business and the competition that faces entrepreneurs on a regular basis. Average just isn’t good enough any more. Everyone has always said that you’ve got to have something special about your business to survive, but now more than ever, mediocrity will rapidly falter.
The FSB Insurance Service can protect small businesses from a lot of unforeseen incidents and can advise on a lot of issues that you might face, but we can’t protect against the inevitable creep of competition that consistently rises the bar across all markets. It is unfortunately up to you to protect yourself against the competitive nature of the business world.
More visible competition
The internet creates a very level playing field. With the internet has come a great reduction in the costs required to launch a business, whilst simultaneously giving access to a marketing channel that broadcasts to the globe.
This means there are not only more businesses competing in each market, but it’s equally easy to find them all. For this reason, you need something that marks you out and gives you access to either a unique niche of the market or simply attracts more of its customer pool to survive.
The internet makes niche markets global, so even markets which were once served by only a few individual companies can now see they have a much larger market than before just because of the way that the internet joins everyone up into one community lump.
What can you do?
Be wary of anyone writing about what you can do to make yourself stand out in a saturated market, because chances are if they really knew what they were doing, they’d be doing it themselves. Without invalidating that point ourselves, there are however a few general things that you can work towards.
1) Look after your clients: Start small and stay consistent and you will find that the positive word of mouth marketing that gets spread about you will serve you well. You can present a company image as much as you like, but the real image is the one held by your customers and potential customers. Unless you keep your service tight, you’ll find yourself resigned to mediocrity very quickly.
2) Take a different approach: If you can do just one small thing better, you’ll stand out. If you go a little further to offer good customer service you will find you stand out. When ordering goods online started to become more popular, the companies that figured out offering free delivery over a certain point was a good idea were the ones that became dominant and stand taller in the online world today.
3) Online presence: The internet is truly a global marketing platform. It’s easy to forget, but practically any other person in the world that has a device connected up to the internet can find their way to your web page if they so wish. With this in mind, treat that online presence like you would a show room and you will be remembered and saved from sliding into obscurity.
If you slip into routine and do the bare minimum, your business might tick over for a while but its chances of survival are much more limited. It certainly won’t thrive when you consider there are other people in your market that seem to just want success more.
Not everyone wants to run a business that grows and expands and much as the term “lifestyle business” is often sneered, keeping something ticking over is still a worthy goal. Unfortunately, being average is not even enough to always guarantee this these days. Try and find something, even if it’s just one thing, that puts you ahead of the curve and your chances of survival will be much better.