My dad was an entrepreneur and I guess the spirit rubbed off on me because I am one as well. Watching him as I grew up, I learned an incredibly important lesson that I think anyone starting their own business needs to learn – perseverance can overcome just about any obstacle. Really taking that lesson to heart can transform you and your business and help you get through some of the tough times that you will inevitably face.
But there was more to it than that. While some entrepreneurs work to completely revolutionize an industry or develop a brand new industry all on their own, most are just trying to win within an existing niche. And when you boil down everything that being successful at starting your own business is all about, you come to the realization that you are going to have to be better in some way than your competitors. If you’re not, you don’t stand a chance. And you don’t have to be the best at everything, but you do need to be better in some ways or customers will have no reason to pick you. You have to be good enough, or pick some area within your business that you will be good enough at to win.
Do what no one else will
The easiest way (easy is such a relative term to an entrepreneur isn’t it?) is to be willing to do the things that your competitors aren’t willing to do. There is a great quote from the football coach Bear Bryant that goes “it’s not the will to win that matters, everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” That’s the mindset we have to have in order to be successful.
I run an internet based fundraising company called Go Green Fundraising. I found a niche within a niche and worked to win that micro-niche first. For me, that meant hours and hours of writing content and making sure my site was incredibly search engine friendly. It meant constantly tweaking pages and keywords. It meant a lot of time working to find incoming link opportunities. I could tell that none of my immediate competitors were willing to put in this same level of work because I very quickly surpassed them in search rankings for all of the terms I was targeting.
I still win those terms and have begun working on larger terms and phrases within the broader fundraising industry. That means going up against some much bigger players and means I need to up the ante and push the threshold of what I’m willing to do to win.
Managing and perfecting my website is definitely not the most fun part of owning my own business and cannot compare to getting to interact with my customers. It’s boring and mundane and time consuming but I’m the only one willing to do it and it is by far the most important part of my success and that makes it worth it.
What are you doing?
For your business it could be something totally different. Maybe you commit yourself to making more face to face customer calls than anyone else. Maybe you are willing to take the time to make the highest quality product possible, regardless of how long that takes. Or maybe your entire business needs to be focused on doing something nobody else is willing to do (Think about all of the jobs on Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel. At some point an entrepreneur said to himself “hey, I’m willing to do that and no one else is and I can make money doing it”).
Jordan Gottlieb is the owner and CEO of Go Green Fundraising. He focuses on helping groups raise money in a more eco friendly and healthy way. His primary focus is on revolutionizing school fundraisers by promoting smarter options.
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