The purpose of starting a business is to succeed. Not everyone needs to be rich, but everyone is at least trying to sustain some degree of success. There is no benefit to starting a company that doesn’t have some chance of surviving – at best, you barely get by and fail in a few years. At worst, you end up worse than when you started.
Not long ago I found myself at a new restaurant without a single redeeming quality. It was brand new, but perhaps it should have been called “bland new” (haha puns!) because its food was bland, its menu was bland, its service was bland, and its style was bland. It had zero personality, zero innovative dishes, and zero commitment to the customer.
At some point – before it became a business – this restaurant was nothing more than a conversation. Long before it became a restaurant, at least one person had a conversation with someone else about deciding to create it. I started to imagine that conversation. In my head, it went something like this:
Person 1: Let’s start a restaurant!
Person 2: Great! People love food! What should we serve?
Person 1: Let’s serve Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup).
Person 2: Excellent! Pho is such a popular food right now! How should we make it successful?
Person 1: Oh no no no.
Person 2: Excuse me?
Person 1: Apology accepted.
Person 2: No, I mean… what are you saying “Oh no” to?
Person 1: Oh, I’m saying no to being successful.
Person 2: I don’t understand.
Person 1: Well, I think we should have the most generic menu possible.
Person 2: uh…
Person 1: We should also hire only cheap cooks and get basic ingredients. Really dumb it down if you know what I mean.
Person 1: Let’s also avoid an interior designer. No one cares about the decor. Also, I think we should hire some friends and family. No need to worry about training them, customer service isn’t the name of our game. Let’s also skip marketing. People will see our sign from the street.
Person 2: So you want to start a restaurant…
Person 1: Yes, I would love to. I am super excited for it. I’m ready to spend my entire life savings getting this off the ground.
Person 2: … and you want to do absolutely nothing to get people to come to that restaurant.
Person 1: Exactly.
Person 1: =)
Person 1: Where are you going?
The restaurant wasn’t even in a popular area. It was a few blocks away from a place that was affectionately known as “Little Beirut” by local police and it had limited parking. This was a brand new business, and they did absolutely nothing to make it interesting or special in any way. It was like writing “hard worker” on a resume – a cliche that can be stated by everyone and ultimately has no meaning. Its food was the definition of generic, almost as if someone was stereotyping it, and the only reason this restaurant might possibly sustain any success is that the ingredients to make Pho cost essentially $0.20 so the restaurant is all profit.
Yet who does this? Who starts a restaurant, or any type of business, without something that sets you apart? Whether it’s the quality of your soup, the quality of your service, the quality of your products, the quality of your marketing, or the quality of your writing, there needs to be something that a company does to make itself different than everyone else.
So ask yourself what your company does that makes it truly different. Ask yourself what makes you genuinely special, or what you’re doing that makes you deserve long term success. It doesn’t have to be products. It doesn’t have to be services. It doesn’t have to be storefront. As a content marketing company, we know that sometimes all you need to do is simply be a better marketer. The point isn’t what you do. The point is to make sure you do something.
Because if you can’t pinpoint what you’re doing that will help you deserve long term success, then you’re not going to have it. Whether it’s innovation, marketing, price, or simply the quality of your service, make sure you’re always thinking about what you can do to help your business succeed.