Only the best is good enough
Starting and leading a small new business towards long-term success is challenging but rewarding, and a surprisingly fun process if done right. It requires dedication, hard work, and most importantly the ability to create products and services with obvious advantages over the rest.
I see many new entrepreneurs coming up with brilliant business ideas, but soon getting stuck because of being overly confident or biased about the real value of their proposition. They fail to realise that customers won’t care about their solutions unless it will solve their problem better and more easily than the rest.
There are 3 kinds of companies:
- Leaders: Those who create innovative, efficient and attractive solutions
- Followers: Companies trying to adopt ideas from leaders after it became mainstream -- and will be forced to compete by reducing prices or quality of service
- Losers: Those who fail to innovate or to adopt proven techniques
Successful innovation does not require reinventing the wheel or coming up with something revolutionary. However it requires a very good understanding of problems your customers want to solve, and you will need to design solutions that are efficient, priced to offer a financial gain after by solving the problem and offer an obvious competitive edge over the solution of your competitors.
How to innovate as a small company?
Startups and small companies have one very strong advantage over large organisations, which is being flexible. While large corporations need to invest millions of dollars in new procedures, research, and innovation, small companies can update their services and products significantly easier.
Also read: Innovation is all about providing better user experience: Alibaba Cloud’s Joey Tan
- Know what others are trying to sell and forget doing the same.
- Survey existing and potential customers to understand their problems, desires, and expectations.
- Ask for feedback from existing and potential customers about your innovation ideas.
- Design solutions in line with customer problems, desires, and expectations.
- Find ways to minimise the cost of providing your service without sacrificing quality.
Short case study: How my company became an absolute leader in its category
I have started dCommerce in early 2016, fuelled by the motivation to create the best e-commerce company for luxury hotels and resorts. By best, I mean the best in providing valuable support and services to ensure a powerful online presence, high brand value and maximum profitability on all digital distribution channels.
First, my idea was to give advice like most other management consultants. Although I was confident about my advice being valuable, I soon learned that it is not too helpful as most hotel management teams are not capable to implement it right.
So I started to include project management in my retainer contract, to ensure that web design companies, hotel technology providers and advertising agencies do exactly what we want. This a huge step ahead but my suggestions were still not properly implemented and my clients were not getting the most out of my service.
Because of this, I started to include digital advertising management, design and website optimisation in my contracts so my hotel clients no longer had to pay other companies - and we could do everything for them much better.
As more and more clients were signing up, overseeing their online performance was getting extremely time-consuming so I decided to invest into a reporting platform with nice dashboards -- so both I, my growing team and my clients can access real-time data and automated reports anytime.
In one year my consulting business has developed into a complete solution where we can tell clients what to do and make it all happen without dealing with 3rd party companies. Today, we can provide consultancy services, business intelligence with real-time data and analytical insights, marketing management, and advertising services -- all in one contract.
I still call dCommerce a consulting business because we offer analysis, advice but also efficient support with implementation, which sets us apart from other management consultants.
Instead of paying a consultant, a marketing agency, and further companies, hotels are happy to pay us and have all the expertise, support, insights and advertising management services they need to do their best.
How to dominate your competition
Before going to war with your competition, take time to develop your solutions until you feel that it is optimal - clients are happy with it, it is easy to sell, easy to deliver, scalable and provides a decent profit margin.
Once your product and service are perfected, take a final look on your competitors, make a list of the advantages of your solution then start targeting their customers who will be surprisingly happy to discover the superior alternative offered by your company.
Also read: Beyond tech, the future of innovation is social, positively transformative, frugal, and circular
Innovation is powerful, but make sure to remain a fair player in your market and do not destroy bread and butter businesses of other entrepreneurs. Make them work for you instead.
As soon as you start to grow your market share, your former competitors will start to hate you with a passion, copy you and they will certainly go out of their way to make your life difficult.
This is the best time to offer them partnership agreements, make them your contractors, suppliers or outsource work to them. This way you can make more profit while extending your control on companies and people who were your competitors earlier.
Editor’s note: e27
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