I’ve been asked recently: How can I compete with McKinsey when I am only a small consultancy? My answer: You shouldn’t compete with McKinsey.
Find out what is different about you and make it your competitive advantage.
The mistake most people and businesses do is that they want to emulate a big company already established in the market. This is the quickest way to fail.
Why would a revolutionary start-up with a big ambition to revolutionise the manufacturing industry with 3D printing technology choose a small team to craft their international go to market strategy rather than hiring one of the Big 4 incumbents?
No, it’s not the price. It’s about the agility, the fresh perspective and the passion that a dedicated team can bring to the task and create an actionable roadmap for the company, just like what we’ve delivered in the CGE’s Alpha team in the past three months for Carbon to expand internationally.
People and companies are looking for unique insights and innovative ideas to adapt to a rapid changing market.
What makes you unique?
Most people find it hard to answer this question and me too I’ve struggled with this one for a long time. But you can find the answer if you are willing to take the time needed to do a bit of soul searching.
However, you cannot answer this question fully if you don’t know what other people, ie your competition is offering, whether you are looking for your next great job or you are a business owner. You need to have researched your competitors and evaluate what they offer to see how different you are.
In other posts, I will provide insights into how to research your competition and how to create your personal branding execution plan. In this first part, you start to determine what you have to offer.
The 7 ways you can find your uniqueness
1. Your life experience
All the experience you have acquired up to now has been unique to you. Even if you are twins, with similar upbringing, your life experience and how you have approached it is different from anybody else’s. No two people have the same experience. This already gives you a point of differentiation in terms of the skills you have developed, and how your successes and failures have shaped you.
5 moments of big successes in your life
5 moments of big failures
5 turning points when you have made a certain choice that could have been different
What lessons have you learnt from these successes and failures
2. Who You Know
Who are the people you know because of your background, the work you do, where you live, most of your LinkedIn connections, etc.? Write down at least 5 categories:
Are they mostly affluent, executives, high flying people?
Which industries are they in? Technology? Sales? Legal?
Which profession? Accountants? Lawyers? Consultants? Techies
3. Your Original Viewpoint
it is not enough to know something these days, anybody can google to find information on anything; but having a distinction and a personal viewpoint on a topic is what people pay for.
Successful people are creating innovative business models based on a new perspective and way of doing things. Martin Roscheisen, the founder of Diamond-foundry came up with this idea after he sold his solar power company Nanosolar. He and his team were looking where else solar power could make a difference. The diamond industry came to mind. But this industry has decades-long history of human rights and labour issues, so Roscheisen said it was ripe for change. He figured out a new way to make high-quality diamonds in a lab in Santa Clara, California, that are atomically identical to diamonds mined from the earth.
His new perspective on the diamond industry allowed him to create this new proposition based on his skills, background and new perspective.
You can find original viewpoints by considering these questions:
What is your outlook in life?
What do you hate or are you frustrated in your industry you are trying to fix?
Which inefficiencies or injustice exist that you are going after?
What your industry is not doing or is scared of doing?
How things can run more successfully?
Which new ways do you see to create more value to customers?
How can you change the current rules of the game?
4. What is your big ‘why’?
Life can feel empty even if you have what from anybody else standard is considered as a great life: kids, spouse, cars, good job…without having a bigger purpose than just yourself. If you don’t have anything outside yourself that drives you to carry on no matter what, time will come when you will feel that void.
This is what I call your big ‘Why’, your ultimate reason and what you are willing to die for.
Take some time to determine:
Why do you do the things you do?
What makes you get up in the morning excited, ready to start a new day?
What drives you to do the things that you won’t feel compelled to do otherwise? Is it for your family? Your kids? Your community? For a particular cause? For your nation?
Let imagine that you’ve been given a magic wand that can only make one wish come true. Any wish, no matter how big or small. What will you ask? To cure all diseases on the earth? End homelessness? End wealth inequality?
What are you willing to die for? Which cause will you fight so hard to obtain?
It’s this ‘Big Why’ that connects you at heart-level to your ideal customers and people who want to be associated to you. They buy into the big picture and what you stand for.
5. Your pure Imagination
Create a totally new idea based on previously unrelated combinations, what people thought it’s crazy or impossible but you think it’s cool to do that.
Elon Musk is one such people with crazy imagination but also able to bring it to reality like the Electric cars with Tesla, Hyperloop transportation to connect cities in 20 minutes or less and SpaceX with affordable travel space.
What are your crazy ideas?
Go for a walk in a quiet and inspiring place in the nature and let your imagination get wild and write down your ideas.
6. Feedback from others
If you don’t have Elon Musk’s type of imagination, no worry. All is not lost. You can ask people who know you well for feedback about how they see you and the best roles they see you in.
I’ve done this exercise many times with bosses, colleagues and clients and the results can be amazing. They sometimes use the right words to describe us.
Set up a survey with a few questions with Google docs or Survey Monkey and send it to people you trust to give you honest feedback.
If you don’t like the feedback you collect or the answers don’t really resonate with you, you can always discard them but at least you have something to work from.
Take the time today or during the weekend to go through these 7 ways to find your uniqueness. It will pay off when the time comes to create powerful content with a unique perspective that your audience loves.
Want to go further? Sign up to the free course on Personal Branding in a digital age.
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About Francine Beleyi
Francine Beleyi is a bilingual French-English digital strategist, communication and marketing consultant and speaker who helps people and businesses thrive in the digital age. She is the author of upcoming book ‘Personal Branding in a Digital Age and you can enrol in her free course How To Package Your Passions, Interests & Skills To Become A Highly Paid Expert.
Francine spends her days speaking with and studying the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the new economy, and sharing her findings with her clients and those who want to understand and master the new rules for business growth.
Looking to design a clear action plan to communicate your vision powerfully and increase your results? Book a Strategic session with Francine for practical insights.