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INNOVATE

3 Ways to Differentiate Your Business From Competitors

If you have a great business chances are you have at least a few competitors. Set yourself apart from the rest with these three tips.
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If you're thinking about starting a business, you (hopefully) have an idea that will fill a void in the current marketplace. (If not, then your entire strategy needs to be based on differentiation, but that's a whole other ball of string). When I started Happy Family, I looked at the existing baby food on the shelf and saw extremely limited options for parents. If you weren't going to the grocery store a few times a week to get fresh, organic groceries, steam them, blend them, and then freeze them, you were limited to overly-processed, underly-nutritious baby food. Yuk. And moreover bad for our children's growing bodies. I wanted to do something very different because I cared and because I saw the opportunity to build a meaningful business.

That was our market entry: we make baby food the way mom's make it--as close to homemade as possible. We thought outside the baby food jar and innovated the space with both frozen and pouched purees. No one else was doing this, and we seized the market void.

But then came the competitors. And if your idea catches on, you can bet that your very own will come, too. This is when differentiation between your brand and everyone else's becomes incredibly important. It's almost never enough that you were first. You have to be the best, and it is a constant race. I'm proud to say that Happy Family continues to win this race, but it isn't easy. And remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Here are the top three tips for how we distinguish ourselves from our ever-growing pool of competitors:

1. Choose your core value(s) and do them better than anyone else

At Happy Family, we put children's nutrition first. Always. For us, this not only means using organic, non-GMO, and natural ingredients. It means using the best ingredients that nature has to offer, like Salba, pre- and pro-biotics, vegan DHA, and Choline, just to name a few. When Mom chooses our products, she knows that her child is getting the very best food for his growing body.

2. Innovate

As soon as you finish one product concept, there is no time to sit back and enjoy the ride. You have to keep moving onto what's next, always creating the next great thing that no one else has thought of. One of the ways we have done this is by growing our product line as our little consumers grow, too. So, while we started as baby food, we now have toddler foods and healthy snacks for kids. My son, Zane, helps to inspire the constant innovation, so it is really imperative to be intimately aware of your market and always think about how you can serve its needs in better ways.

3. Be patient

Yes, this seems like the opposite of innovation, but if you are working too fast, you risk putting out a product that does not represent your hard-built brand. You must maintain the integrity of every product you produce to keep your customer's trust and continued loyalty.

IMAGE: Flickr/A.LwinDigital
Last updated: Jun 1, 2012

SHAZI VISRAM | Columnist | Founder and CEO of HappyFamily

Shazi Visram is the founder and CEO of HAPPYFAMILY, the leading premium brand of baby and toddler meals in the U.S. HAPPYFAMILY is sold in over 13,000 stores with 9 different lines of optimally delicious organic foods.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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