Is your business terminally unique?

How ONE belief can either fuel you… or sabotage your success

By Drew Hudgins • Published Wed Jan 27 2017

You’ll Read This and Like It Because…

  • It includes a list of things that make you stand out
  • It warns of 7 “personality taboos” that will bring you down
  • You can finally ditch that “I’m not creative” lie you tell yourself

$2000.

That’s what I plunked down for a training program. 

At that time, it was by far, the most I had ever shelled out for a program like this: I was dead set to learn how to write more persuasively—and get some bonus kick-in-the-pants coaching to boot!

(I even cashed in $637 in credit card rewards to help cushion the investment).

Bottom line: I wanted to be the bomb-diggity at this marketing thing and start helping my private clients knock their goals out of the park!

But I was also very naive and foolish. 

I knew I lacked experience that could only come from serving others.  Eager to put all this valuable know-how to work, I sought out local business owners to a thorough marketing strategy sessionfor free.  One particular retailer agreed to sit with me and to see if I could come up with a solution for them.

We were sitting at her kitchen table one morning, discussing her shop and what she and her husband wanted to do with their business. This meeting was all to assess things and get us started. I asked a lot of questions. I listened. 

The big sheet of paper in front of me was filling up with my scribbles as I took notes, processing everything I was hearing. And even drawing little lightbulbs out by some ideas (that’s my method:  I return to those lightbulbs later to remind us of all those ideas that popped out in the moment).

Legal pad notes with ideas denoted by lightbulbs

Bummer.  Business was down for them. Way down.

I listened. I jotted things down… admittedly, I was a little stumped though.  Maybe from all the overwhelm—all the things that she was sharing that they had tried, and felt burned. 

Then I had it!

There were quite a few pitfalls I could pin and I was eager to pull these to the surface so we could knock them out, one by one.  I had this basic, doable strategy all laid out.

"The flu? I think you mean Typhoid Doc.
If you could just prescribe me something for that, I'll be on my way … thaaaanks."

Gather ’round. It’s story time. (I’ll get back to the the kitchen table strategy session in a minute)

Once upon a time, there was a home owner named Linda. Her roof was leaking so she sought help from Ronnie, an expert roofing specialist.  Ronnie did an assessment on Linda’s home.  Since Ronnie had been in the roofing business for so long, it didn’t take long for him to know exactly where to look and pinpoint the leaks.  

He shared his finding with Linda. She returned, “Well, I think you must understand that my home is different.”

Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, a nasty flu season had swept through the land.  Freddie McBodypains wasn’t feeling well at all. He paid a visit to Doctor Diane.  She had seen the same symptoms in the previous 26 patients that same day and took no haste to diagnose and prescribe some meds for flu relief. 

Freddie listens to her instructions about how to best recover, nods his head, but then challenges back with, “I see Doc. I believe you might be overlooking something. You see, my body’s different.” 

And in both of these tales, it’s not just a friendly “heads up” warning that’s offered.  Instead, it’s offered like a, “Nice try [Doc/Ronnie-Roofer]… but your assessment won’t work, because I’m so different that your usual process of diagnosing my problem won’t work with my situation.”

Sure, there are differences between homes and our bodies… but look at the context!  

There are only so many ways gravity can pull water into a leaky roof… and, given the context of flu season, there are only so many signs Doc needs to see before concluding a patient has the flu!  

A solid service professional sees the same things over and over, and gets good at assessing the most common ones quickly. 

dude tells doc hes pregnant

So, let’s go back the the kitchen table:

After that uneasy feeling of: “Awe shoot. I can’t latch onto anything! What IS IT!?  I didn’t know I was capable of sweating like this!” had evaporated,  I finally latched onto some real problems that were holding them back.  

I laid out a diagnosis and a plan,

"Right now, you're not spending anything on advertising… and even if you were [advertising], the message you'd like to be reaching and persuading your best future customers—that message isn't quite clear yet."

Her response was heart-stopping.

The veteran shop-owner starred at my notes and sketches for what seemed to be an hour and finally broke the uncomfortable silence with, 

"Well………… I think what you need to understand is that our business is different."

“Our Business Is Different” ?

I love it and I hate it. 

I’m going to tell you why you should embrace such a belief—and do so PROUDLY!  Then I’ll tell you why you need to ditch this philosophy at the same time.  Can it be done? 

Of course. 

Why your "Our Business Is Different Philosophy" sabatoges your success.

Regardless of the type of business, they’re not all that different. 

At the most basic of things, in order to survive (like any lifeform), a business’s lifeblood is profit. 

Not likes. 

Not followers. 

Not emojis. 

Profit. 

Profit trumps Likes Followers and Emojis

When someone begins a project and does not intend to make profit—that’s called a “hobby.” 

There are a lot of starter-uppers not making profit (at the moment) and that’s cool. At some point, they’ll need to or they’ll simply shut ‘er down (or just ask if they’re a hobbyist).

However if they intend on making some cash, regardless of how they intend to use that cash, then they are embarking upon building a business

If you think, “My business is different. Profit isn’t important,” then the next question to ask is, “Just how long do I see myself sustaining this thing that isn’t destined to build profits?” It’s fine if you’re running a hobby… just be realistic to yourself about it (and your family).

Next, a business needs to help others. If a business doesn’t provide value to others in such a way they recognize that value and are willing to pay for it, then its days are numbered. 

That’s as simple as I can think to put it: Make a sustainable profit through providing a product or service that enough people will pay for.

How different is that?

I heard another ‘owner tell me, “Yeah, Google Ads didn’t work for us.” 

And another say, “Yeah, Facebook didn’t work for us.” 

I guess their businesses are also different

I wanted to fire back: “So the 97% of Google’s Tens-of-Billion$ in revenue… I guess that just came from all the others who it happened to work for?” 

and “I suppose Facebook sustains itself through 1.8 Billion users sharing photos of selfies, their kids and entrées — through their free accounts. I guess that’s what’s making them so profitable?

I never spoke up in those moments; the timing would have been poor. 

If a “business-doctor” sat down with a struggling entrepreneur, assessed his problems, diagnosed the issues, and came up with a plan to help him grow profits through serving more people, more often……… then in what way can that business be different?

There are 10 Business Success Pillars …

in the Small Town Big Business System and they each need proper care and attention (although, the beauty is not all the gears need to be a turnin’ for the machine to still run).  All 10 are purposed to build sustainability—through more profits, more engagement, more popularity… they all move someone to more freedom to be married to their spouse, not their business. (more to come on these 10 pillars)

So your business isn’t all that different

Cool? 

Cool. 

Now let’s shift gears and talk about why you better be thinking, “My business is different!”

If you're not thinking, "My business is different," then just start shutting it all down now.

Why the 180 degree shift? 

Here’s why: If you can’t find a way in which you’re different from Wal-Mart, Kroger or Amazon, then your days are also numbered. 

The good news: this is easier than you think. 

Every single business owner I’ve ever met (almost) shared these traits

  1. They were a human being.
  2. They had a brain.
  3. They had a personality.
  4. They wanted to succeed —  and in the best of cases, …
  5. …they had a love and a passion for doing what they were doing; they had a mission behind coming “to work” each day

Let’s break down each.

1) Are you human? Check.

If you’re reading this, you pass. This is a great day. 

Seriously, the leg up you have is there’s a face to the business. People will go out of their way to support a business where there’s an actual person there when they knock on the door. 

2) Brain? Check.

If you’re reading this, you pass. This is definitely a great day. 

Let’s drill down though: I’ve heard people assert that they can’t come up with ideas. 

"but I'm not creative"

Say we’re having a one-on-one, in-person conversation and you noticed my eyes drifting slowly above your face … and they got really wide! … and my eye-brows lifted … and my mouth dropped open …

Then I gasped.  And then my body started to lean away from you as if I was about to flee… and I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! It’s … It’s … !” 

Stop. 

It’s what?

What are you doing right now? 

Are you thinking of the thing that was sneaking up behind you? 

A meteor? A Godzilla thing? A falling building? A large chicken? A small chicken?

News flash. (a Good News Flash)

You’re thinking such things because you are creative.  You’ve had your own expereiences that fuele your imagination. You’re creative enough to imagine whatever it was in your head — and it doesn’t matter if the imagery was the same in my head.  

The point is: Yes, we all have the ability to think up things that aren’t yet in existence. It’s called being creative

3. Personality? Check.

There’s a wise saying that goes, “Just be yourself.  Unless you suck as a person… then you should find someone else to be.” 

I’m not one to preach: “Just be yourself! The world is waiting!”

Nope.

How many times have you heard “be yourself”?  It’s not enough. It’s just more trite mumbo-jumbo that makes me vomit. 

See, some people can be themselves. Some might be standing in their own way because, for whatever reason, they’re not being their ‘authentic’ connect-with-people selves—and they should be! In the effort to be “professional” they come off as “fake.”  That’s a problem. 

The other side to this: Some personalities need some tweaking to say the least. 

Here are just a few personality traits that I’ve personally run across that you should abandon ASAP if you have any (or if you have a trusted friend that is blunt enough with you to let you in on the real you).

  • Jealousy [that customers don't ever seem to come through your doors… specifically, the ones across the street]
  • Self-righteousness [talking with a prospect over something silly that has nothing to do with them getting value — nor you making a sale]
  • Neediness [wearing your prospects out! trying to prove your worth - it's the non-stop selling some of our Facebook friends do before we unfollow them]
  • Self-centeredness [where you think you're doing the Lord's work… that your business is God's gift to your town. Prospects may levitate upon entering]
  • Whiny-butt [where someone promised you running your own business was going to be easy, and you believed them. Put this down and go punch that rascal in the face]
  • Fear [where you do the worst thing… which is never doing anything]
  • Ignorance [when there's a knowledge that things are changing… but no effort to increase the knowledge of the things that are changing]
  • The "yeahbutter" - (You can learn about the Yeahbutter in the STBB glossary - coming soon)
  • Aaaaand there are lots more. That's enough for today though.

I’m betting that since you’re reading this, you’re not likely to possess those taboos (or at least nothing that you can’t work through).

We’re all works in progress

Studies have been done on chutzpah (pronouced “HUHTZ – pah“), as in the very thing that Steve Jobs had could blast from a keynote stage. 

His presentations were captivating and hypnotic. 

The Good News: the findings are that Chutzpah can be learned. 

I’ve made the claim in earlier posts:

Your business is an extension of YOU.

And if you are lacking in certain areas of personality, that’s not an excuse to pack it up; it’s motivation to go commit to some changes! 

(hint: how do you really think I came up with that list, huh?)

4) Desire to succeed? Check.

Everyone wants to succeed. 

What do you do when you want to, but you just don’t quite know how to? 

Simple. You ask for help.  

And if you can’t find help, you hit the books… or the web. 

Then when you’re so overwhelmed with all the advice, you go back to asking for help. 

Cool. 

Next… 

5) A love and a mission behind doing what you do.

This is one that is arguably, the most deepest and most profound separator between your business and retail giants that are eating your lunch! 

Yet too many of us do NOT take advantage of our own passion — this mission that fuels our actions behind turning the lights on each and every day.

Look at these two examples: 

Drew does not knit but can dreamThanks to this video, not only knitters—but everyone gets to learn and be inspired by her story.  You get to relate to her, her military background, her inspiration to start crocheting, and the way she conquered a lull in her business. 

 

Do you want to visit Yarn Mountain after this?

I do! And I don't even knit!

How about this inspiring classic: Apple’s “Think Different” message. 

Usually, I’ll coach small towners to stop comparing their journey to huge companies like Apple, Coca Cola, Google, Zappos, etc. 

But in this context, we’re discussing passion—the why that drives the soul of the small towner visionary.  And most small businesses have this going on for them without a shadow of a doubt!

We, as humans, are not all that different now than we were thousands of years ago.

We want a connection to a real person. We love real stories. We love seeing the underdog win. We love to feel understood. 

Are you nodding your head, saying to yourself, “Yes… that’s me. You’re talking about me.”

Of course I am. You’re the face, the head, hands and certainly the heart behind what you’ve built. 

Don’t hold back in sharing your mission with others. They will remember you. They will seek you out.  Prospects are looking for an experience and are willing to offer their loyalty

It’s yours for the taking.

Got it? Great! … But it's not enough.

Ahhh yes. 

That’s what makes you so special. And if you don’t have those things 5 things above as a foundation, you’re certainly not going to be equipped to move forward (at least not for the long haul). 

The small town business world is much different than it was, even ten short years ago. 

In many ways, things are tougher

But in many more ways, there are more opportunities than ever before. 

The region of the prospect pool has exploded and all we need to do to start the paradigm shift in our heads is to ask, “What would Tower Records do? … Okay, how can I do the opposite of that?” 

“What are the online “etailers” doing?” [Now stop. Look around your shop/office]. “Now, how can I imitate what they’re doing, except do it better?”

“What can I offer, that I’m already offering, as a subscription?” 

“What are services that people keep asking about (because they are go perfectly with what I’m already selling), that I can realistically fulfill for them, making their lives better?” 

“What are products that people keep asking about (because they perfectly compliment the services I’m already rendering), that I can realistically offer?”

 

Let's wrap it. You are and you aren't.

To sum it up, you’re not so different that you should completely shut yourself off to proven strategies that help grow profits, yet haven’t YET for you.  (hint: They all take time and practice. Choose one, Try it 5 to 7 times. Evaluate hard between each).

And you are different so start building that collection of sincere customers’ compliments. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Hey, I really appreciate your business. What was it about my biz that helped you choose me?” Add it to your file! 

Enough Yappin'! It's Your Turn!

Hey, why is your business different? 

Why do people choose you? 

Or what is it about your business that makes it difficult to land more traffic and sales?  Let’s get over that hurdle! 

Leave it in the comments!