Competition is always fierce in business. But it can be especially brutal for a startup. So how do entrepreneurs separate themselves from their competition but stay true to themselves? What is the most effective way to distinguish your brand and remain successful? We asked members of the Entrepreneurs' Organization to provide their best tips.
Create a unique brand personality.
"We went against the grain by going after younger consumers and created a new, authentic brand that's much more relevant to their generation. Since we don't have the big marketing dollars, we used creativity to develop a fun and irreverent brand personality that resonates with our consumers. We say things our competitors won't, connect directly with our fans on social media, and engage our customers in a fun way."
--Jordan Eisenberg, president, UrgentRx; EO Colorado
Focus on you.
"Our business faces stiff competitors in three different industries. Instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, we focus on our own key performance indicators and how we can create internal competitions among our staff to improve them. For example, we had an internal competition to see which of our franchises could generate the most client referrals in a month. This allowed us to drive our company's objectives without being preoccupied with outside competitors."
--Nick Friedman, president, College Hunks Hauling Junk; EO Central Florida
Stay ahead on technology.
"We consistently skate on the bleeding edge of technology. Our competitors sell the same products and services they have for years--sometimes long after they have become obsolete. We take a different approach by experimenting with new technology before it becomes mainstream, so we can predict how it will change our business. We do this by building strong relationships with our partners, allowing us to learn about and sometimes influence new technological developments early on."
--Derek Goldstein, owner and CEO, Casaplex, LLC; EO DC
"We break tradition by allowing the customer to choose exactly how they want their sushi. If they want a maki roll with chicken or with all fruit, we create it! If they want to eat their sushi with a fork, we provide the utensils. If they hate seaweed, we'll roll the sushi up with a soy wrap or recommend our dumplings. We don't judge and also make sure our five core values reach all the way to the rollers, allowing customers to eat exactly what they want."
--Yuen Yung, CEO, How do you roll?; EO Austin
Connect with the community.
"As a hyperlocal daily-deal site, we are David competing against Goliaths. Yet we have been able to outsell major competitors by becoming a community favorite. For every deal sold, we donate $1 to a local school or nonprofit that's selected by the purchaser. Over four years, those dollars have added up to more than $200,000 given back to our community. This has helped us compete successfully against our biggest rivals."
--Wendy Jaffe, CEO, ConejoDeals.com; EO Los Angeles
Establish your authority.
"A great PR campaign focused on something slightly controversial or unusual will garner the most interest. Right now, I'm on a speaking tour discussing how automation is killing jobs and how that's a good thing. It ties what my company does into a current trend and flips it on its head. Interviews, articles, podcasts, etc., all work together to promote this ideal and outbrand our competition."
--Dan Abbate, CEO, Robotaton Corp.; EO South Florida