Trust Me - I'm UNIQUEEventually, every business or organization has to answer the question – Why you instead of someone else? What makes you unique? Why should I do business with you instead of XYZ? What are your qualifications?

There are wrong answers to these questions.

  • We have the lowest prices – is it because you’re selling crappy quality products or a superior logistical system? Sorry, low prices generally are interpreted as crappy quality. Mercedes never has a sale.
  • We are the only ones who have ABC or do DEF – is it because no one else wants to have ABC or do DEF or is it because you have a special lock on what you offer. If so, why is it special or is it? Can you prove that it’s special?
  • Only we truly understand what you need – Really? I’m special, just like everyone else. How could you really know what I need?

So what are the right answers to the questions? How about:

  • A world-class management team which has a track record of real accomplishments. Would you bet on First Time Joe Smith or Richard Branson – which one has real accomplishments? (Hint: It’s not First Time Joe no matter how great his idea is.) As one angel investor said, “I bet on the jockey, not the horse!”
  • Proprietary technology which does what’s unique and no one else can do. Would you bet on someone using technology anyone can use or someone who has a technology protected by patents or trade secrets? Patents give you a legal 20 year monopoly while trade secrets have worked great for Coca Cola – and who makes more money – the generic cola or Coke? As the aforementioned angel investor said, “I look at how far out the picket fence is.”
  • Proven operational systems/processes which does what’s unique and no one else can do. Would you bet on the Thrifty Scotsman (a local one-off burger joint) or McDonalds? Ed Koch bought McDonalds because their operational skills were producing more sales than other fast food places. Even today one promise you get with McDonalds is that their burgers and fries are the same anywhere in the world. In fact, they were forced to develop their own beef ranches in Russia in order to get beef in the quality and quantities they needed. The best idea in the world is worthless unless it can be executed successfully.
  • Key partnerships which enable you to offer what no one else can duplicate. Would you bet on a local independent hospital or a hospital partnered with the Mayo Clinic? The Mayo Clinic is world-renowned as a great hospital with world-class doctors and care. And the relationship must produce sales or revenue, otherwise it’s not worth anything. I had a client once who marketed her service to schools but her customers were students, their parents and alumni. The schools didn’t produce any sales or generate any revenue – Sales and revenue would only come from customers. You have to focus on what will help you achieve your goals.
  • Long-term contracts with major customers with guarantees of sales and revenue. Would you bet on a business with proof of paying customers and revenue or someone who promises that “everybody will want one?” Well, who is everybody? One potential client came to me with a keyboard shaped like a ball. Turned out everybody was gamers who want more buttons for controlling games. But other than himself, he had no proof anyone else wanted his spherical keyboard.

One final note – if your unique qualification is that you’re a genius, don’t bother talking to me because I’ve met too many geniuses that either can’t produce what they promise or haven’t done their homework because it’s already been done. If you’re a genius, prove it.

What’s your unique qualification?

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.