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Differentiating Your Business - Are You Listening to Your Customers?


One of the reasons an entrepreneur starts a business is because they believe they will be able provide a specific product or service in a unique or special way. You believe you will be able to do it better than anyone else and in fact, one of the things you are told is you need to identify your key differentiators.

On one hand, this is true. You do need to be able to explain to your potential customers or clients “why” it is that they should choose you. However, in order to shortcut your success, understand people in your industry are doing some of the things they are doing because it works. In addition, if you make what you are doing sound so different, then people might be confused about what you are offering.

Let’s look at an example. Say you have decided to start up a real estate business and in order to differentiate yourself, you are going to do virtual panoramic tours of homes, so your potential clients no longer need to spend their time going from home to home. They will simply be able to do it online from the comfort of their home. It will be like speed dating houses, without all the work. Sounds like a pretty good idea and it might be, however it might also end up being a tough “push”.

Have you considered people are not only looking at the house, itself? They like to check out the neighborhood; the other houses in the area, what the street itself looks like, what amenities are close by, etc. Have you considered where they might find your service? Right now, they are conditioned to talk to a person. They might look online, but would they be looking for a company like yours or would they be searching for a specific name of someone to talk to? Have you considered whether people would have the “know how” to use your service based on the demographics you are targeting. Young people might not be in the market for houses, and your target demographic may already be conditioned to go and see houses in person rather than look online. There could be a number of hurdles you would need to overcome, in order to succeed.

Sometimes, new small business owners will come up with ideas, based on their own preferences and forget to listen to the potential market. They attempt to “push” them into the market and there are times when the market “pushes” back. The ideas aren’t bad and in fact, given enough time and resources they might be the thing to disrupt a market enough to become the new adopted norm. The key here is “enough time and resources”.


For new small business owners, they often don’t have enough of either. If you are just starting out, recognize on the front side creating a business doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything different. There are leaders in your industry and market. They have become so because they have listened to their market and responded in a way that is pleasing to them. Once you have a captured market, it becomes a whole lot easier to invest and create value added products and services because your customers or clients will tell you first hand, if you choose to listen to them. That is what will differentiate you in the end.