Why you're better: Eight ways to shape your competitive advantage

Aja Stuart

What is it that makes your business better?

If you want to build a sustainable business with floods of happy, loyal customers, and leave your competition in the dust, you need to know the answer to this question. That answer will be the key to your competitive advantage.

Your competitive advantage is what gives your business the edge. It defines your value to your customers, sets you apart from your rivals, and consists of a number of different factors that are unique to your position. A sound competitive advantage will make your business, and its many successes, difficult to emulate.

How do you find that magical combination of assets that makes your business standout from the wannabes?

Here are eight ways you can define your competitive advantage.

Added value

It’s worth digging for that little extra something you can provide your customers. Longer opening hours, faster deliveries, online convenience, whatever it is you can do that your competition can’t – get to it.

Exclusive distribution

Bonus points if you’re the only business with access to the goods.

Innovation

Have you got a new idea for a brand spanking new product that doesn’t exist yet? Or a never-before-seen improvement on an established process? Get that idea out there while no one else has thought of it. There’s nothing like a head start.

Intellectual Property

Holding the trademark, copyright, or patent for something that people want makes it hard for your competitors to copy. Which is a very good thing.

Location

Being in the right place all the time is business gold. Perhaps you’re the only gym in the suburb. Gold. Your shop has high visibility and there’s a lot of street traffic. Gold. The warehouse for your online store is in the middle of a transport hub. Yep, gold.

Lower costs

Access to lower priced goods or services, or more efficient processes can boost your bottom line, and we all know cash flow helps. A lot. Alternatively, you could be passing the savings on to your customers and distinguishing your business as a price leader. Either way, lower costs can set you apart from your rivals.

The A team

Do you have a Wozniak to your Jobs? A business partner, or several, with a complementary skill set to yours can create a really solid foundation for your business that’s very difficult to imitate. A unique combination of skills, used well, can come to define your business, and generally enables you to do more than one thing well.

Specialist skills

If you have an area of specialisation that can lend itself to your business, use it, particularly if it’s a skill that’s uncommon in your industry. It may give you a completely new angle for your business that hasn’t been done in your industry yet. Or perhaps it might give you a unique insight into a certain aspect of your industry. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

A great competitive advantage would have a few of the above factors in play. The more the better. When you’ve locked down several ways in which to define your business it becomes harder and harder for your competition to catch up or copy you.

Knowing, honing, adapting, and working your advantage will keep you at the front of the pack for a long time to come.

Aja Stuart

Aja is Sydney-based writer and serial entrepreneur. She regularly writes about small business, entrepreneurship, and health and wellbeing. Her latest entrepreneurial adventure is yeahmama.co.

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