By Bryan Orr

You’ve heard it said that we live in a global economy; that is true and it affects each and every one of us. Fifty years ago, little independent shops and stores covered the country, and they would be the only businesses that offered their particular set of goods and services for miles around.

Now with a global economy, we are all forced to compete in one way or another, no matter what type of business we are in. This helps keep prices down and quality up for consumers, and it keeps us on our toes as business owners — which is code for “constantly gives you new challenges.”

Here are my top 6 tips to stand out from the crowd.

1. Have a Clear Benefit Message

We’re not always selling “things” or “services.” What we are often selling is a benefit or an experience. In my air conditioning business, I don’t think of our company as selling air conditioning replacement and repairs, but more accurately we’re selling people comfort in their homes and businesses.

Are you clear in your brand and marketing about what you are selling and how it benefits your customers?

2. Simplify

How easy are you making it for people to do business with you? Your customers want the benefit of what you offer quickly and painlessly while thinking as little as possible. If your brand looks complicated, boring, chatty, or arduous they will likely spend their money elsewhere, even if elsewhere is more expensive and of lower quality.

3. Lead with Experience

How do your customers FEEL when doing business with you? Have you ever asked them? What would happen if you asked them and then used what they tell you as a testimonial?

4. Make the Competition Irrelevant

It’s good to watch your competition, but NOT so you can copy them. You need to know how to stand out from the rest. Aldi and Trader Joe’s have taken the U.S. grocery scene by storm, not by being a better version of what other grocers are doing, but rather by throwing out the rulebook and doing things differently.

Traditional wisdom would say that charging for shopping carts or allowing customers to sample anything in the store would be pure insanity. Turns out they are “crazy like a fox” and they are making more traditional competition irrelevant.   

[easy-tweet tweet=” You can’t afford NOT to take chances…you need to be innovative to compete.” user=”bryanjorr” hashtags=”smallbiz”]

5. Put People First

Nobody wants to be seen as a number, a process, or a cog in a machine. Saying that people come first is so cliche in corporate America that it’s like a bad joke with no punchline. People are complicated and unique, and it is really difficult to actually set up your organization that actually pulls it off. Providing a unique experience will take time, effort, and humility.

If f you set up your organization to  treat people like individuals you will never be wanting for great employees and loyal customers.

6. Assume Nothing

I have a challenge for you. I am taking off the metaphorical white glove and slapping you in the face with it (metaphorically, of course). Next time you say or think, “That won’t work because ______.” Take whatever you just thought or said wouldn’t work and do it anyway.

In business we fill our heads with so many preconceived thoughts based on our past experiences.

Guess what? The past you was younger and dumber than today’s you. You can’t afford NOT to take chances. We live in a global economy and you need to be innovative to compete.

What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?