Lessons Learned #28: What Makes Your Business Different?

If you’re like me, you’re constantly busy, trying to take care of several things at once, moving from one project to the next in a seemingly endless chain.  After a while of running the “rat race”, I find it necessary to pause, and ask thought provoking questions.  Last weekend, as I was taking some down time during one of those “pauses”, I found myself thinking about what it is that makes a business different from its peers.

If you care to participate in this thought exercise with me, I encourage you to be open minded and do as I suggest.  Ask yourself:

  • What sets my company apart from the rest?
  • Is there really a difference between my business and all the others with which I compete?
  • If I were one of my customers, what would my experience with my business be like?
  • What would I notice?
  • How would I feel at the conclusion of the project or after delivering the service that my company provides?
  • Would I feel that I received good value from the exchange?
  • Did my company do what it promised?
  • Would I be eager to do business with my company the next time the opportunity arose?

Well, I could go on, but I think these kind of questions are enough to make my point.  They should provoke you to think about how your business is organized and how it operates.  Is it by design, or does it just happen?

You might be thinking by now that these questions could all be answered with the adoption of a mission statement by your company.  You may be right.  However, my experience with business has taught me that mission statements, while beneficial, are only an expression of good intentions or a goal to which a company aspires.

There can be an enormous disconnect between your company’s mission statement (no matter how skillfully crafted) and the actual embodiment of that statement in your company’s practices, ethics, policies, and communications with its customers.

A solid mission statement can be a wonderful foundation from which to start the transformation of your company to fit that unique vision that you have as the owner.  However, the fact that you have a mission statement alone, cannot accomplish what is needed to make your plans come alive.  You will need to do the hard work of hiring, training, developing procedures, policies, and providing oversight and leadership to ensure that the aim of your mission statement will be met repetitively, providing the meaningful results that you desire.

I will share with you my formula for transforming an ordinary business into a great business in a future issue.  In the meantime, don’t forget to keep asking yourself the series of questions I posed.  You may not be able to answer them now, but being able to do so is the first step you must take toward achieving greatness for your business!

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland

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