I had the pleasure of attending a recent women’s entrepreneur lunch at the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton. It included a Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank style pitch by 4 local women run businesses in competition for some services and prizes to help them with their development and growth.
The panel was made up of local service and successful entrepreneurs, but they were certainly much nicer than many of the ‘sharks’ or ‘dragons’!
None of the businesses, as far as I can determine, were the only ones of their type, they all have competition. What was very noticeable and great to see from them was some indications of their brand uniqueness.
Lunch-bags.ca. A local custom catered lunch company, with fully compostable packaging, run by one much taller owner than the other – they even made humourous comments on this. The humour theme continues as their delivered food includes over detailed opening instructions on the boxes and a list of the music they listened to while making your food!
Sounds Sports Imaging. A start-up company offering training and implementation for sports medical clinicians on a revolutionary portable ultrasound machine. The owner was very knowledgeable and passionate about the difference this was going to make.
Cake & Loaf. A made from scratch bakery with all products made fresh daily using as many local suppliers as they can find. Also a high eco-emphasis with minimal waste and local bike delivery.
Eco Lux Pet Apparel. Offering luxury pet clothing styled on latest human fashion trends and made from used human clothing, wherever possible made from natural materials etc. The owner had a very outgoing personality and used her singing skills to present part of her pitch tunefully!
All four eventually ended up receiving prizes and they all seemed set for continued launch or growth. This in part was due to varying degrees of 3 things that all small business and entrepreneurs need to consider – their U.S.P. ;
Uniqueness. 99.9% of the time you are not going to be the only one in the market, there will be competitors similar or the same to you. You have to find what your unique approach, perspective or offering is going to be and then ensure you are communicating that all the time to make it memorable.
Savvy. Have a great idea, product or service is just not enough. You have to do your research, find out what your customers other options are. Also know your numbers. One business had excellent stats and demographics - they knew the depth of their opportunity.
Passion. There are going to be bumps in the road. You have to truly believe that what you have is a winner. If you do not believe it how can you expect anyone else to? One of the businesses was rejected for funding by banks because they thought their numbers were unrealistic – they have actually tripled them! This was because they had done their homework. Blind passion can be dangerous but if you add in the Uniqueness and Savvy then Passion can make you a real winner.
How clear are you about your U.S.P?
If you are not as clear as you think you could be perhaps a complimentary strategy session might help - check out my availability.