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Know what sets your company apart? | Issue #175

How to differentiate your business for fast and sustained growth

Differentiation. Everyone says they’re doing it. Very few are doing it correctly. If you want fast and sustained growth, you need to work out where you are relative to your competitors. And what it is that makes your company different. So far, so obvious. Differentiation is vital for attracting and retaining customers and staff. But if you’re in a crowded market, it’s all too easy to say the same things as everyone else. We see this strategic convergence all the time.

At the beginning of our relationship, we ask our clients, ‘What makes your company stand out from your competitors?’ And what do they tell us? Typical responses are ‘We put the client first’ or ‘We deliver amazing customer service’ or ‘We’re passionate about what we do’.  What do you reckon? Pretty weak, eh? These statements are just too vague. The acid test we apply is whether the opposite is true. No competitor will say we don’t put the client first or are not passionate. So these things aren’t differentiators. They’re too similar to what everyone’s saying.

The things that will differentiate you today are the drivers of willingness to pay. But how do you find these? And how do you know when you’ve struck gold?

Scaling Up Your Business with The Scale Up Leader Author, Stuart Ross

Are you scaling up to exit your business or are you focused on scaling up to build a more sustainable business? Either way, don’t miss Stuart Ross, author of The Scale Up Leader on this week’s episode of The Melting Pot. 

Stuart is a business coach who started life as a buyer for Burton Arcadia group. From there he moved to Boots where he led a number of innovations such as launching their first website (and they were so cheap they wouldn’t pay for the .com, only the, and then subsequently spent a small fortune a few years later acquiring the .com, but that’s another story.) 

He also launched the meal deal – something almost everyone on the high street has now, and he worked on the Boots Advantage Card.

Stuart launched his consulting coaching business High Growth in 2012, and today he works with a range of clients across the UK and the US. He also features frequently in the news, talking about what it takes to build a scale up business. Scaling up is something he’s so passionate about, he’s written a book about it. Which is precisely what he discusses in this episode. 

So if you’re wanting to grow and scale up your business, download and listen today.

Gallup Called to Coach

In this podcast, Nick will show you how to scale up your business and your life! So you can aCalled to Coach is a webcast resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world.

5 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask Their Direct Reports

In this piece, executive coach Susan Peppercorn outlines five questions to start asking your direct reports so that you can get a better sense of how they’re feeling about their positions: 1) How would you like to grow within this organization? 2) Do you feel a sense of purpose in your job? 3) What do you need from me to do your best work? 4) What are we currently not doing as a company that you feel we should do? 5) Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?

The best OKR titles we’ve ever seen

You’ve probably heard us say this before — an Objective should be inspiring. Let’s be honest, the chances that a boring-sounding Objective will truly motivate your people is quite low. It may get the job done, but in order for it to inspire your teams to see it through to success, Objective titles will need some love and attention. So the question is: did your Objective titles from last quarter “spark joy” in you?

Want to make an impact? Change your questioning habits.

“Asking questions keeps people engaged, which is paramount when you are trying to influence someone’s thinking or behavior.” That’s the conclusion of a ten-year-old Harvard Business Review article by Chris Musselwhite and Tammie Plouffe. But the idea that leaders can have more impact by asking the right questions is much older. As early as 375 B.C., Plato emphasized the importance of teaching children how to ask and answer questions.

Eat Their Lunch by Anthony Iannarino

Like it or not, sales is often a zero-sum game: Your win is someone else’s loss. Most salespeople work in mature, overcrowded industries, your offerings perceived (often unfairly) as commodities. Growth requires taking market share from your competitors, while they try to do the same to you. How else can you grow 12 percent a year in an industry that’s only growing by 3 percent? It’s not easy for any salesperson to execute a competitive displacement–or, in other words, “eat their lunch.” You might think this requires a bloodthirsty “whatever it takes” attitude, but that’s the opposite of what works. If you act like a Mafia don, you only make yourself difficult to trust and impossible to see as a long-term partner. Instead, this book shows you how to find and maintain a long-term competitive advantage.

Objectives and Key Results by Paul R. Niven and Ben Lamorte

Objectives and Key Results is the first full-fledged reference guide on Objectives and Key Results, a critical thinking framework designed to help organizations create value through focus, alignment, and better communication. Written by two leading OKRs consultants and researchers, this book provides a one-stop resource for organizations looking to quantify qualitative goals and ensure each team focuses their efforts to make measureable progress on their most important goals. You’ll learn how OKRs came to be and how leading companies use them every day to help teams and employees stretch their thinking about what’s possible, build their goal-setting muscles and achieve results that reflect their full potential. From the basic framework to a detailed dissection of best practices, this informative guide walks you through real-world implementations to help you get the most out of OKRs


Ask the right questions in your 1:1s to get the best performance from your team

You think someone in your team is an A-player. They’re killing it. So, are you pushing them hard enough? Ask them, ‘How can I support you to do the best work of your life at this company?’ in your weekly 1:1s. This will get them to work out what they need to do to push themselves harder. If there’s not some uncertainty about success, then they’re not pushing themselves hard enough.

Upcoming events

Jack Stack Great Game of Business Webinar8th February

The more engaged, bought-in, and inspired your employees are, the more value they’ll drive throughout your company. Don’t miss this training with Great Game of Business expert Steve Baker and legendary business strategist Jack Stack. In 90 minutes, they’ll detail everything you need to know about creating that engagement through financial literacy, incentive programs, and bringing a laser focus to every level of your organization. Happening next Tuesday, 2/8 @ noon ET.

Warren Buffett’s Protégé – 22nd February (2:22pm – 5:22pm ET)

This article ( details how Tracy Britt Cool got her start at her family’s farm stand. The Harvard Business School graduate became a master of building businesses at Berkshire Hathaway, the Pampered Chef and now her investment firm Kanbrick. Please join us for this global event – 8 leading-edge biz/thought leaders including Tracy for Leading@Scale!

Like Minds Nudge Ideas Festival, Exeter (UK) – 25th March

After 19 months of online-only, the Nudge Ideas Festival is back, in-person at the stunning Winslade Manor at Winslade Park, just outside Exeter. It will be an intimate event designed around engagement and collaboration. Places are limited to 100 (plus our speakers), so don’t miss out! 

If you’re interested to attend, click below and pre-register on their event page.

Quote of the week

“Surprise and differentiation have far more impact than noise does.”

Seth Godin

Dominic Monkhouse

Dominic offers business coaching and management development, strategy planning and organisational change, using tried and tested methods to launch your organisation onto an unparalleled growth trajectory. His programme is a function of his broad experience, his deep expertise and a proven process used by over 2,700 firms worldwide.

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Sign up today and get your copy of F**K PLAN B: How to scale your technology business faster and achieve Plan A, the book that will change your business and your life.

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    Sign up today and get your copy of F**K PLAN B: How to scale your technology business faster and achieve Plan A, the book that will change your business and your life.

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