No matter how wonderful a business idea may look on paper, it is simply not enough to go through the motions of selling a product or service. Every once in awhile, a new company is launched whose business idea is so new and so unique that it literally sells itself. However, this is an extremely rare happening. More often than not, a new company will sell a product or service that is already available on the market, or is very similar to something that is already available. In order to attract and retain customers, then, the business must rely on the X factor, that indefinable substance that makes the company stand out from its competitors. The X factor allows you as a business owner to sell yourself rather than just another product.
To find the X factor for your company, you first need to take a hard look at yourself and your business. Are you passionate about your work? If you truly love and believe in whatever you are selling, that energy and emotionality will shine through. Customers want to buy products that they can trust, from companies that they can trust. The best way to build that trust is through sincerity. If you do not truly love and believe in your product or service, why should anyone else love or believe in it? Therefore, when considering a new business idea, it is important to select one that truly motivates you.
If you are already in business and you feel that the passion is gone, you have a few options. Perhaps it would be best to sell the business and start over in a new direction. However, this is not always feasible or desirable. In that case, review your business model with an eye toward change. How can you modify your existing concept into something that makes you proud? Revisit the reasons that you selected your unique concept in the first place and try to return to the basic ideas that you used at the beginning. Look through your business plan, paying particular attention to your mission and vision statements. Perhaps you have simply lost your way.
Once you have found your personal passion about your business idea, it is time to generate ways to transfer that passion to those around you. Survey your employees, business associates and friends. Find out what they believe works, and what they feel needs improvement. Generate market research. Determine what the public wants in a product or service such as yours. Think through your own experiences as a customer.
Hold a meeting with staff to allow them to be part of the generative process. Empower each employee to make decisions that further your company's mission. Bring them on board by allowing them to present ideas of their own. Foster an atmosphere of trust and open sharing in order to develop a cohesive team that works well together toward a common goal.
The goal is to be "better" than the competition, yet this is measurable in almost unlimited ways. Some customers are price-oriented, taking the least expensive option no matter what. Others are willing to pay more for great service. Still others want "value added" in terms of fringe benefits such as membership clubs or occasional parties. You will not be able to provide every customer's ideal shopping experience. By performing market research, however, you can determine what the majority of your customers are looking for, and develop ways to provide it.
Exceptional customer service is a nearly universal customer desire. How can you provide better customer service? To answer this question, look inside yourself. Are you naturally outgoing? Strive to put yourself out more into the public eye. Are you funny? Find a way to incorporate humor into your advertising and daily business practices. What can you specifically, with your own unique talents and abilities, do to enhance your customers' experience?
Examine your company's goals. Fine tune your corporate focus if necessary. If you run a clothing store, who are your target shoppers? If you run a handyman service, what is your target market? Make sure that your storefront, website and promotional materials reflect the population that you wish to draw as clientele. Find a way to make your message relevant to your potential customers. Again, market research can help you in this process.
Clarify your company's values. Whether your business is a dark and smoky nightclub or a children's daycare center, it should be guided by its own unique value system and ways of doing business. To determine the company's values, think through what is important to you, your staff and your clientele. Do you support a particular charity? Why not sponsor an event that benefits that charity? Are you dedicated to minimizing your company's impact on the environment? Make sure that your customers are aware of your efforts. Do you want to draw families with kids? Make your storefront child-friendly by adding a few activities that will occupy children while their parents shop.
No matter what type of business you run or what your target demographic may be, your company will have a message. This is the heart of your X factor, and will drive the decisions that you make. Narrow your company's message down to a few sentences that can be used in tandem with your vision and mission statements to provide a succinct description of the company's X factor. Remember that the X factor is irrelevant if you cannot find a way to present it clearly to the public.
Find a way to get your message out to the public. Develop a corporate image that reflects your message. Choose uniforms or a dress code that mirrors the mood you wish to set, from conservative to wacky. Develop a company logo and slogan that quickly and clearly convey your message. Hold brainstorming meetings with your staff to develop ways of communicating that mirror your company's theme. Avoid "sound bites," which can sound fake, but use your written statements to guide your press releases and other media contacts. This will ensure that each public appearance is a way to successfully promote your company's image.
Be bold. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are those who are not afraid to think outside the box and make daring moves to demonstrate their X factor. If you are truly passionate about your product or service, then you can make powerful decisions without second guessing yourself. However, your decisions should always be driven by your own passion and a sincere desire to share it with the world. When done correctly, parties, charity events and publicity stunts provide a powerful opportunity to share your company's X factor with the public. However, they tend to ring hollow when hosted for self-serving purposes.
Ultimately, your company's X factor should be generated by you and your team. A particular item or service is flat and uninspiring in and of itself. Look for ways to demonstrate the passion of both yourself and your employees in everything that your company does. In the words of the immortal Walt Disney, "You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality."
Be Business Smart has been created to assist anyone who is setting up a new company and to offer valuable support and advice to individuals who wish to expand their current business.
Did you realise that approximately 80% of new businesses fail each year? You certainly don't want to become one of those statistics. Fortunately, Be Business Smart can provide you with the help and support you need to ensure your business becomes a success!
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