Why Being Yourself Is The Key To Standing Out In Business

By Ted Griggs The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Winnie Hart, author and chief right engine at TwinEngine, a Houston-based consulting firm, shares her eight fundamentals to standing out in business. Chief among them, purpose, reputation and visuality.

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

An entrepreneur can do everything right, have an amazing product or service and incredibly talented and dedicated employees, but if the company doesn't stand out or stands out in the wrong way, it loses.

The simplest formula for standing out? "Try to be more of you because that is sustainable, whatever that is," Winnie Hart, author and chief right engine at TwinEngine, a Houston-based consulting firm, says.

Hart was the keynote speaker for Entrepreneurs' Organization Louisiana and TEDxLSU's afternoon of entrepreneurial learning. More than 50 people attended the sessions on Nov. 18, the final day of Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week.

Hart discussed how to stand out in business.

Doing so is not easy. Each day thousands of emails, texts, voice mails, apps, social media posts, and ads on radio, billboards and television bombard consumers, Hart said. Add that to the 500 or so things already running through a person's mind every day. All of this messaging takes place against a backdrop of 30 million U.S. businesses, with more created every day.

"There is lots of competition," Hart said. "It's important to be really clear about who we are and what we do."

That is especially because consumers often see little difference among competing brands, Hart said. Consumers just want to know what's different about a product or company.

It's businesses' job to communicate that clearly and simply.

That's why it's key for business people to know who they are. The difficulty for many is that who they think they are and who other people think they are may be totally different things, she said. For example, one exercise Hart takes clients through involves looking at a variety of symbols -- gears, a heart, a cocktail glass with an umbrella -- and picking the one that best represents the client or his or her company.

Hart did this with her daughter, Olivia, expecting her child would see her mother as the heart. Instead, Hart's daughter picked the gears.

To help entrepreneurs understand what is unique about them, Hart recommended finding a group of key advisers, something like a board of directors. Those trusted advisers can help entrepreneurs "see themselves from outside themselves."

There are eight fundamentals, she said, of standing out in business:

--Purpose: What do you stand for? What do you do beyond making money? Hart helps clients determine this by asking what they would do if money was not an issue? Most people say travel, spend time with kids, she said. Business owners should ask the same question of their employees and figure out how to make those passions a part of the company.

--Reputation, or the gap between perception and reality: How do your customers and the market perceive you? It's vital that a business understand not only its reputation but that of its competitors.

"What we're going to see in the very near future are algorithms that enable us as consumers to understand what is true and what isn't," Hart said. She compared the truth algorithms to the fact checkers at the presidential debates. The day is coming when individuals and companies will have reputation scores, similar to credit scores.

--"Visuality": What is the outward appearance of your brand? Make the outside of the company match the inside.

--Authenticity: Is what you say true, and does it communicate your value proposition? Hart makes clients write down their value proposition and say it out loud. "You'd be amazed at how most of the things we say don't make sense," she said. It's also important that employees are saying the same things as management.

--Ideal Leads: Who is the perfect client? And is the business nurturing and managing these prospects?

--Distinction: Do you know what your distinct advantage is and do you communicate it consistently? This boils down to defining who an entrepreneur and his or her business is.

--Strategy: Do you have a 12-month strategy in place?

--Mindset: What discipline is needed to achieve the desired results?

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