“It’s not about getting there first, but about getting there really well.” – Renée Elliott.
Business Connect – May 9th 2019 – ‘brand, values & competition’
Once again we had an eclectic mix of businesses gather for our Business Connect breakfast this month, alongside varied phases of development from planning to launch to seeking to scale. Regardless of sector or phase of business, however, there were common challenges and questions in relation to the session’s theme.
Rather than try to capture all that was covered, below is a key takeaway or two.
- Brand is for everyone in your business. It should communicate to your team, customers suppliers and all stakeholders. Your brand is ‘who’ you are. And this is the era of ‘who you are’ – where in past decades emphasis has been on ‘what’ you do, or ‘why’ you do it.
- It seemed like most of those gathered had the same question in this regard: how do I communicate this succinctly? Especially if my business has multiple facets / product lines / services that it offers.
- Much of you Brand, and what you communicate as your brand, will be informed by your Values.
- Values are “the noble objectives or aims in an endeavour”.
- Put another way, they are ‘how’ you run your business, or go about what you do in your business.
- In any business it can help to think about Core Values (these are the non-negotiables, from which you will never waiver) and Aspirational Values (which are your direction of travel but which you may not yet be in a position to 100% live & breathe all of the time).
- NB: this is also the era of transparency – the ability for your market to see what is or is not truthful is almost immediate, as is the feedback! So stay in integrity. It’s ok to express your aspirations as aspirations.
- Values are a great way to define the brand of your business in the era of ‘who’.
- Re-connecting with your values is also a good way to re-connect with your passion and motivation for the business.
- Entrepreneurs often get thrown by competition. Three ways we often see this expressed:
- Freaked out by what others are doing leading to losing site of own business vision or resulting in feeling defeated by the prospect of bigger player(s) in the market.
- Fearful of being copied and rushing to get to market first, leading to misplaced sense of urgency that can result in making mistakes and unnecessary stress.
- Pretending that competition doesn’t exist, which it almost certainly does or, if it doesn’t yet, it certainly will do if your concept is successful in the market. Pretending that something doesn’t or won’t exist doesn’t protect you from the existence of that thing!
- So the recommendation is to slow down and be thoughtful about your competition.
- One great approach is to use analysis of your competition to go deep with your own values, and then to figure out how to communicate that point of difference clearly to your customer.
- Think about your points of difference as both a marketing advantage, and also as a tangible benefit to your customers too. eg: if you’re a high price point, is it because you only use the best ingredients – that’s your values, your point of difference, and your tangible benefit.
- Focus not on getting there first, but on getting and staying there really well.
- Be nimble: if you’re defining a new market or new value int he market, what will your point of difference be when the market catches up with you?
- Consider that competition can often be positive, in terms of growing awareness of a new market. Equally, if competition is creating a ‘bad name’ for your sector, this will be important to address in your own branding strategy.
- General Takeaways
- As said above, urgency often creates mistakes and stress. Instead, aim for thoughtful momentum: clear, focussed, effective. Understand that you are on a journey, and will always be in a process of discovery and ‘getting there’ because as soon as you get toward your goal-line, the line will move forwards to reflect the next phase of your business development. So work on being in the now, and enjoy the journey.
- Maintain an ‘always learning’ mindset. As a business owner you are in constant learning environment. Embrace this. It’s ok not to be an expert in every area – seek support to develop knowledge and skills where you need them.
- Double down on your conviction: vote for yourself / your business. Note: this isn’t about being rigid. Conviction includes having an open mind and willingness to iterate, but it is about backing your self at each stage of iteration.
- Strategic Business Plan: everyone needs to work on this! The business plan is an active, evolving road map, that is responsive to the evolution of your business and serves as both a thinking space and as a road map for you. It covers each segment of the business. Getting things out of your head and onto paper is a great way to clarify your path forward, mitigate risk, and grow strategically.
- It’s good to share the journey. Entrepreneurs, as with CEO’s, often reflect on how it can be ‘lonely at the top’. So it’s good to connect with others on a similar path and to share experience. This alone can provide a great source of renewal, confidence and enthusiasm.
There was much more besides, but let’s consider that as a fairly full menu for now.
It was, as ever, an inspiring session and we all left lighter and with renewed springs in our strides.
We look forward to being with you at the next Business Connect, which we run every month.
You can find a list of upcoming events on Beluga Bean Calendar.