If you ask any entrepreneur to describe their company in three words, it's a safe bet that the word "innovative" will top that list. It's a good quality in a startup -- innovative companies constantly seek to improve and challenge the status quo with new and efficient solutions.
The problem, of course, is that in an age when everyone calls themselves an innovator, the term can start to lose its potency. That's why today's startups should seek other words to describe themselves if they truly want to stand out from their competitors.
Below, eight entrepreneurs share unique terminology to use when highlighting your business's best traits. From approachable to evolutionary, here are their suggested alternatives to "innovative."
You don't want potential clients and partners to feel intimidated by your business. That's why a word like "approachable" can establish a feeling of safety and confidence that you will complete the job well and on time, according to Alfredo Atanacio, co-founder and COO of Uassist.ME.
"It is that intermediate point between a professional relationship and a friendship based on trust," he says.
There's a high premium on creativity when many industry players are offering similar services. Nicole Munoz of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc. says she loves to hear about companies that are looking for creative solutions.
"Sometimes there is an element of passion and inspiration that is better suited to the word 'creativity' than the word 'innovation,'" she adds.
According to Beth Doane, managing partner of Main & Rose, clients crave authenticity -- especially in today's digital age. Seek to be viewed as a brand that sticks to its values across all touchpoints.
"I always advise my clients to establish a strong brand that is true to their values, and reinforce it with their products, advertising and actions," she says.
In a rapidly changing business environment, describing your startup as "evolutionary" shows that you are adaptive to current conditions, explains Peter Daisyme, co-founder of Hostt.
"It lets your audience know you make the changes to survive, thrive and address their needs," he says.
Annie Eaton, CEO and co-founder of Futurus, says that many companies that identify as "innovative" focus heavily on future proofing. But she believes that mentality is unrealistic; instead, her company suggests "future planning."
"We don't have a crystal ball and technology is constantly changing, so we like to advise 'future planning.' This practice is the implementation of technology and processes that allow for rapid change as industries evolve and emerging technology is rolled out," says Eaton.
The word "professional" makes an impact in a time when everyone is trying their hand at entrepreneurship, according to Ismael Wrixen, CEO of FE International. He says: "While it may seem like a word anyone can apply to themselves, I believe 'professional' has picked up extra resonance over the last few years."
"As it gets easier and easier to build businesses online, guarantees of professional conduct are gaining greater value," he explains. "It is worth considering what other language you can modify to create a more professional impression."
Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights, believes that being reliable should be a top priority for any business. Ask yourself, are you catering to your target market and delivering everything you promised? If not, it's time to rethink your strategy, he says.
"Your company should stay consistent in its values, promises and output," adds Christoff. "If you tell customers they can expect something at a certain time, deliver that promise. There's nothing worse than not following through."
Trust is paramount in any relationship, but it's especially important in business. In fact, David Boehl, CEO and founder of GoLastMinute, likens trust to the oil in your business's engine.
"More entrepreneurs should focus on building a trustworthy company culture," he says. "Without trust, you won't be able to nurture and grow your client and customer relationships."