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Focus on Your Strengths to Improve Profits and Revenue

The conventional response to today’s lackluster economy is to focus on cutting business costs. That’s good advice up to a point, but eventually paring down becomes counter productive. Once you are done, you are still stalled in the same economic doldrums.

Rather than restricting your strategy to cost-cutting, try playing to your strengths. What product, service, or other customer benefit do you offer that goes beyond the norm? Think about ways to build upon and expand that benefit, and then communicate it to current and prospective customers. If nothing you offer is out of the ordinary, improve your services or offer a new service that nobody else provides.

What makes you stand out? Look at your firm through your customers’ eyes. Why do they do business with you instead of your competitors? Is it the exceptional quality of your products or services, lower prices, inventory selection, peripheral services like delivery costs or frequency, your helpful and knowledgeable staff, a convenient location, or some combination of these reasons? Even if you think you already know the answer, double check with your customers. Ask what they like about doing business with you and what additional features or changes would enhance their relationship with you.

Play to your strengths. Once you have identified your customers’ wishes and preferences, focus on your strengths. Discontinue products or services that are indistinguishable from your competition or that generate more problems than profits. Instead, emphasize or expand your existing areas of excellence. Promote activities that enhance productivity and/or reduce bureaucracy.

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Comment by Damir Perge on January 21, 2013 at 1:46pm

From what I have seen, entrepreneurs of all company sizes and revenues tend to keep products that are indistinguishable from the competition way too long in their product mix. It takes mental courage to discontinue products within the company and I am glad you recommend it in this article. Some years ago, when I was working for a public company, I recommended that we kill off more than 30+ different sku's of at least ten products. We killed all the non-performing products and the company hit cash-flow positive within 90 days. Imagine that.

Playing to your strengths is not done enough by every entrepreneur -- that includes me. I think it is easier to play to your strengths when you and your company take the time to analyze strengths and weaknesses of each product relative to the marketplace. This can be done for the company as well.

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