Recipe for Success: What’s Your Secret Sauce?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On March 25, 2013

You’ve probably noticed that it’s a pretty competitive business environment out there. And unless you’re really unusual, you probably don’t have people lined up outside your door begging to do business with you. There are, however, businesses out there that seem to hit it out of the park. And not only are they successful, but they are actually in a position to decide with whom they’ll do business.

What makes businesses like that different? What’s their “secret sauce?”

One of the biggest challenges businesses have is differentiation. Few of us operate in areas where there is no competition. And frankly, we often compete with other companies that aren’t all that different (at least on the surface) from us. How do you stand out from the crowd in a way that makes people beat a path to your door to do business with you?

Some companies try to compete on price. That almost never works as a long-term solution. There will always be somebody out there willing to offer what you offer for less. And clients who come to you based on price alone will leave you in a heartbeat for someone who charges less. You can’t develop loyalty with price. So what can you do?

Start with a close look at your core competencies. What are the three or four things your company does really well? What are the things for which you consistently get positive feedback from existing clients? Write them down. Then think about how you can do them better and differently than anybody else. What can you do that nobody else is doing (or in a way that nobody else is doing it)?

If you’re in a B2B environment, what can you deliver that will give your clients a competitive advantage? If you’re in a B2C environment, what can you do to make your clients’ experience better than it is with any of your competitors? What we’re really talking about here is innovation.

FedEx certainly wasn’t the only company in the package delivery business. But they took their core competencies and developed an innovative approach to their business that left competitors in the dust.

Apple definitely wasn’t the only company making computers and software. And they came dangerously close to becoming irrelevant. But they took their core competencies and with their innovation completely changed the computing industry, the music industry, and even the cell phone industry.

You may not be the next FedEx. You may not change whole industries like Apple. But you don’t have to be a “me-too” company. What do you do really well? How can you take what you do well and add your “secret sauce” to it so that you deliver something nobody else delivers?