The Simple Question with a Difficult Answer

Written by Jamie Irvine | 5.5-minute read

At the heart of every business, there is a very simple question with a difficult answer that must be addressed if you want to have success.

What is the simple question with a difficult answer?

The Simple Question

Why should customers buy from your business instead of the competition?

There is only one rule when answering this question:

You cannot use anything that your competition can do as well.

All too often businesses use generic statements that have no meaning to describe their supposed “unique selling proposition.” They talk about the basic things that are the barriers to entry as if they differentiate them in some way. Let me give you an example.

Meet John the Contractor.

John and his team are experienced renovators, they work hard, they are honest, they give written estimates, and they guarantee their work.

None of these things can be used to answer our simple question.

Why not?

The barrier to entry into the contracting business includes experience, working hard, being honest, putting things in writing, and guaranteeing your work.

These things are important but do not meet the criteria to adequately answer our simple question because all of John’s serious competitors are doing all of those things as well.

The Difficult Answer

The reason answering this simple question is so difficult is because it drives at the very heart of a business and when you try to answer this simple question it can take you to a dark place.

What if you take the time to try and answer this simple question and you realize that there isn’t a good reason for customers to buy from you instead of the competition?

What if you realize that you are a second-rate business or worse, a third-rate or fourth-rate business?

What do you do then?

In Darkness All You Need is One Source of Light

Discovering that your business is not differentiated at all can take you to a dark place indeed.

I know, it happened to me last year.

As I was launching my coaching and training business I realized that I had not really taken the time to adequately answer this question for my own business even though I was challenging my clients to take on this very exercise.

Talk about being taken to a dark place.

As I wrestled with this simple question I struggled to come up with anything of substance. I felt frustrated and even felt a little defeated.

How could I have allowed this fundamental to get away from me?

When I was building my contracting business, we had found it rather easy to differentiate ourselves from our competition.

Why was it so hard this time around?

Then at the darkest moment, a tiny little bit of light appeared. Not enough to light my entire path and guide me out of the darkness but enough to give me hope.

To start with my coaching and training business had me at the helm which no other coaching business had.

That was something.

In the end, that turned out to be everything.

Once I realized that as the leader of my new business I was the difference it changed everything. I started to think about the unique aspects of my personality, background, business experience, and training. No one else has ever taken the journey I have taken. No one else has the perspective I have.

This presents a seeming contradiction though.

“Don’t you teach that we need to build businesses that operate independently of us?”, you might ask.

At first glance, it does appear to be a contradiction.

As I said, the first glimmer of hope was the realization that I was the difference maker. But, for those differences to become part of a great business, a business that produces predictable results, operates independently of the owner, scales, and can be sold, every aspect of the business must be separated from the owner.

So, my next step was to look at my unique abilities and identify areas that I could create and implement truly differentiated components into the business model that would make it stand out from all of my competitors.

For my coaching business, it translated into this:

Jamie Irvine Business Coaching and Training is the only coaching business in the world that focuses exclusively on self-employed people with service-based businesses and uses the Blueprint of a Great Business program.

The Blueprint of a Great Business program incorporates a world-class proven methodology that teaches self-employed people with service-based businesses how to provide for their families and create freedom and flexibility in their lives.

Finally, Jamie Irvine Business Coaching and Training provides all of its clients with a unique set of tools that no other coaching business in the world offers as a package. These tools dramatically improve our coaching clients experience and are guaranteed to increase sales, reduce operational costs, and differentiate them from all of their competitors.

That is what currently differentiates my coaching business from all other coaching businesses in the world.

What about you and your business?

As you can see I was able to take my unique abilities and translate them into something that not only differentiates my business from its competitors but also can be implemented without my direct involvement.

In other words, once the differentiation is conceptualized and implemented it can be systemized and packaged in such a way that anyone in the business can extend those differences to the clients.

I believe that any self-employed person with a service-based business can answer the simple question with a difficult answer. I think that you can differentiate your business from every competitor regardless of what business or industry you are in. Sometimes though you need a little help and that is why I wrote this article.

I want to challenge you to take the time to ask and answer the simple question with a difficult answer. It will change your business forever.

Let’s talk about your business.

Schedule a 90-minute coaching call today.

Author: Jamie Irvine

Jamie Irvine is the host of The Heavy-Duty Parts Report and a sales consultant that works with manufacturers, distributors, and SaaS companies serving the heavy-duty truck parts industry.

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