Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the first 90 days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.

Ask your average entrepreneur about his or her company and chances are you'll get a description of what that company does or makes:

  • "We've built an app that tracks..."
  • "We make a handheld device that..."
  • "We provide a location service for..."

That's a lost opportunity for the entrepreneur, especially if the entrepreneur is speaking with a potential customer, investor or contact.

While some outsiders might immediately "get" why your app, device, or service might be useful to them, much of the time they won't or can't.  This for three reasons:

First, you may be using jargon with which they're not familiar. Unless you're selling into your own industry, you'll probably use terminology that's confusing.

Second, while it may be obvious to you why somebody would want your product and service, other people probably haven't thought it through the same way.

Third, people have such short attention spans that they usually zone out before you get to the "interesting" details, assuming the details are actually interesting (which they probably aren't.)

Talking about what your companies does or makes presents your audience with a set of questions that they may not be committed to answering:

  • "What is he talking about?"
  • "Why is this important?"
  • "What does this mean to me?"

Unless you answer these questions quickly, people get bored and restive. Whatever you're saying becomes part of the background SPAM.

Therefore, whenever you talk about your company, you should start with what your company means rather than what it does or makes.  Examples:

  • "People can't find parking spaces to charge their electric cars so we built an app that..."
  • "Public places tend to collect germs. Our device checks to see if a surface has been cleaned..."
  • "Parents can't find services for their autistic children, so our site provides a vetted list..."

The same problem recurs in small company websites and marketing materials. They present a description of what the company does rather than an explanation of what it means.

For example, suppose you've got a company that helps landlords maintain their properties.  Here are two real-life website descriptions from a quick search:

  • #1: "We are a full service property management company proudly servicing this area, caring for our client's property and committed to customer service and individualized client attention. Our comprehensive scope of services includes..."
  • #2: "Owning rental homes can be costly. The right property management company can make all the difference. Our goal is to protect your investment, minimize your costs, and maximize your income--without interrupting your daily life."

Can you see the difference?  The first description focuses on what the company does for its customer while second example focuses on what the company means to its customers.

Which of those two descriptions do you think will attract and engage the most customers?