This month, we will look at the forth challenge we faced in our business. If you’ve missed any of the previous articles, you can click on any of the three previous challenges below to read the details:
- Cash flow issues/Undercapitalization of your business
- No investment in a proven pipeline for new business
- Shallow dialogue with our clients
- Lack of differentiation in the marketplace
- Fear or reluctance to take risks or try new things
Most times, lack of differentiation in the marketplace is a slow killer of business. This is certainly the case in a competitive market. We can point to a number of recent examples of businesses that have failed because of lack of differentiation in the market place. A recent one that comes to mind is Sears Canada. With the intense competition in the retail space, there will be more business failures to come as many of these retailers are barely hanging on with some customers and some revenue skimp that has lasted for several months or even years.
We face similar challenges in our business as the services we offer is generally commoditized. This was made worse with the completion of the merger of the three accounting bodies in the last few years (CA, CMA & CGA all unified as CPA). This merger significantly increased the number of service providers in the marketplace providing services that were more or less exclusively provided by CA’s in the past. Now with the saturation of CPAs in the marketplace, it is harder to differentiate yourself as there is plenty of noise and chaos with everyone fighting for the same business. The only way to stand out is to come up with your own Unique Value Proposition.
We now understand that this is key area that must be addressed. We understand that without uniqueness in the services and solutions we offer, we will continue to fight for the bottom scraps with the many competitors in the marketplace. To address this, we’ve recently identified four industries we want to specifically target and we’re now intentional in putting our resources to target these client segments. We’ve started observing these client groups more closely to get a better understanding of the jobs, pains and gains that matter most to them. As much as we can, we’ve started putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers to learn about aspects of their jobs that they find unsatisfying; and to get a better glimpse of their unresolved pains and unrealized gains. With these lessons, we’re working hard to design solutions that will meet their needs.
Some of you would have noticed some of the changes we’ve made recently to better respond to the needs of our clients. This is an ongoing process and we anticipate many more changes to come as we learn more about our clients and their needs. Of course, differentiating yourself in the market place is not easy but you will agree with me that this is a core element of your business that must be addressed. Business owners who take this lightly will end up in trouble. We encourage you to grab a tool like Alex Osterwalder’s ‘Value Proposition Canvas’, stick it on your wall and work it. Dig in. Figure out the true value you bring to the table which is unique and different than others in the marketplace.
We will wrap up this series on the top five business challenges we faced next week with a look at how fear or a reluctance to take risks can impede your growth. Stay tuned!