Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 50

Dare to be different
Before you start your business, you need to be sure of
your target audience as well as your company's unique
selling point. Here's how to pin them down

hen launching a new business,
it's easy to put the horse before
the cart. With so much to think about,
you may find yourself bogged down in
details, but one of the first things you
need to be sure of is exactly who your
potential customers are and just what
it is that you can offer them that will
make you stand out from the crowd.
Having a unique selling proposition,
or point - often just referred to as a
USP - is a key component of success
in any business. It will help you to take
a market share from your competitors
and allow your company to grow. But
in a crowded market, it can be hard to
find what will make your enterprise
stand out and appeal to potential
customers. That is why it's vital to
research exactly what is already
available. It's the key to offering a
service or product that's above,
beyond or simply slightly different
from what's already out there.

KNOW THE MARKET

"Research is your best friend," says
James Caan. "It's essential you spend
a considerable amount of time sizing
up your competition, understanding
your market, establishing your USP
and defining your target audience.
"Lots of aspiring entrepreneurs
I meet are obsessed with inventing
something new. Instead, why not take
something and make it better? People
get hung up on inventing something
unique - an idea, product or service
nobody else is already offering - but
there's very little in business that's
truly unique. Focus on being better
than the competition instead of
looking for something new."
To do this, James suggests you first
ask yourself who your competitors are,
how successful they are and where

50

they could make improvements. "The
more you know, the better position
you'll be in," he says. "Understanding
what your competitors do well will
give you a good idea about what your
customers are looking for in any
particular service or product."
While your research may well
uncover a gap in the market - allowing
you to create a unique niche - before
you take the plunge it's vital to first
consider whether there really is a need
for the USP you've discovered.
"You need to find a way of filling
the gaps, identifying any issues in the
market and then offering a solution,"

ways your company could improve
on your competitors' customer
service, for example by saving your
customers time through your ordering
process." You could also offer a wider
range of products, with more colours
and/or more sizes, for example.
To help establish your USP, James
also recommends that you make a
list of your business attributes and
evaluate how well you meet those
needs on a scale of one to five. "Once
you've defined your USP, it's then a
lot easier to promote your business,
stand out from the crowd and disrupt
the market," he says.

MAKE YOURSELF HEARD

Make a list of your
business attributes
and evaluate how
well you meet them
says James. "But you should also ask
yourself whether the problem you want
to fix really does exist."

BE LED BY YOUR
CUSTOMERS

To be successful, a business needs
to be customer- and market-led.
"Customer satisfaction is a key area for
any business, and providing a superior
service to your customers can be an
easily achievable USP," says James.
"If a customer knows they will receive
next-level service from you compared
with your competitor, then they're
more likely to come to you. Think of

Having found a strong USP, you then
need to focus on getting your message
across to potential customers. After
all, there's no point offering something
unique if people don't know about it.
"Just because someone currently
has a position in a market doesn't
mean they're delivering on it," says
James. "If you can do it better, make
it known. Perhaps you place particular
pride on engaging with customers.
Whatever it is, communicate it
through all your portals."
James also advises that once you've
identified your target audience, you
develop the business around them.
"Know your audience and how to
target them - and put yourself in your
customers' shoes," he says. "Don't
try to be everything for everyone.
Focus on your customers and their
needs. By trying to please everyone,
you often end up pleasing no one.
"Consulting your customers will
make them feel they have a voice,
will breed loyalty and, if you're lucky,
will increase the likelihood of them
recommending you to others.' □

WORDS: TRISH LESSLIE
ILLUSTRATION: SHUTTERSTOCK

W



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