It is obvious that in business you have to identify the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd, the thing that makes you, you. But is it really that easy?
In such crowded marketplaces and industries, it can seem impossible to find your niche in the market, especially when more often than not you’re competing with huge businesses that have even bigger pockets. That’s always been the case for UKFast.
We have always been, and continue to be, in an industry where there are global players dominating the market. However, smaller businesses have something that these giants cannot compete with no matter how deep their pockets.
Smaller businesses are more agile, more collaborative and more able to adapt. For example, when you are a startup, you seek out absolutely every single opportunity that you can. Nothing passes you by because you are hungry for success and you are desperate to make the business work.
As the business grows it becomes easier to overlook these opportunities. You now have established ways of doing things, it’s harder to drive change across the business. It is all too easy for big businesses to stagnate.
However, it is more often than not these missed opportunities that are the very things that make you stand out. Those off-the-cuff moments, the ideas that spring out of nowhere.
I recorded this week’s podcast over the weekend (which is coming out tomorrow) and talk about this very topic, of finding ways to differentiate your business, about finding opportunities where it may look like there are none.
Something from nothing
I often wonder if we are doing enough to spot opportunities. They could be, and usually are, right under our noses! It is so easy to cruise from day to day, and miss things that cost nothing but may make a massive difference to the business and your customers.
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A recent example of this is the mentoring programme at UKFast. We have a huge focus on development in the business, and had looked at the options for training and development across the team. However, when we asked people what they wanted to learn and how they wanted to grow, it became clear that we had a wealth of talent within the business already. Our mentoring programme is now run by people internally, utilising the talent that is already on our doorstep. That means a greater end result because everyone is already under the same roof and building friendships. Our current programme has only been running for a few weeks but the impact is already clear across those who are both mentoring and being mentored.
There is another thing that every business has, whether they have enough of it or not is another question though, and that’s space. However, not every business is using that space in the very best way.
Since the early days, we’ve been creative with our space to ensure that we go beyond the traditional office. In fact, I have a set ratio of leisure space to desk space that we stick to across all of our sites. This ensures that the workplace never becomes too corporate. People need to switch off sometimes, to have fun.
What do you stand for?
Interestingly, using fun to soften the hard veneer of business and daring to be different instantly makes you different, if that makes sense! So many businesses think that they are being edgy by having certain things in the office or quirky rewards, but everyone is doing that now, it’s old hat. Fads and trends come and go. Whatever it is that makes your business different goes far deeper than that. It’s ultimately about your culture and what you stand for.
I learned this when I realised just how infectious business culture and energy is. When we started introducing more opportunities to switch off in the workplace, people started following suit originating ideas of their own. Now we have a whole range of groups, clubs, book club, spin classes, kettlebell classes, circuits, craft club; the list is endless!
Finding your ‘difference’ isn’t about hiring expensive consultants and have presentations or meeting after meeting. It’s about looking at what you already have within yourself and your business to find your edge. Ultimately, being a true entrepreneur is about being able to identify and maximise opportunities to create something of value from nothing.
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