5 August 2016

How do you get the edge? How do you find your USP?

maddie Lj ukfast

Image from @MaddieHinch

I often talk about data and how essential it is to understanding your business, but what about at the very early days, before you’ve found your feet and have a business to analyse?

I believe that success in business is about finding a gap in the market; finding a space that isn’t being filled – or isn’t being filled well enough – and delivering what the market is missing.

That’s how we started with UKFast. We tried to host a website, found that the service level in the hosting industry was poor, so we set about creating a provider with a focus on the customer as well as the technology.

So how do you find that gap? How do you establish your USP?

You may stumble upon it, you may have a ‘eureka’ moment, but I actually think it comes down to data and research, again. Whilst I don’t believe in focussing on competitors, every now and again, you need to check in. You need to look at the market and analyse it.

I was reminded of the importance of this watching an Olympic build-up programme on the BBC yesterday where Clare Balding spoke with three of the women’s TeamGB hockey team ahead of their trip to Rio.

I was fascinated to see that their goalkeeper, Maddie Hinch, takes analysis to the next level. Maddie studies the opponent, whittling each player’s tactics down to a series of key points. She studies footage, watching the game and the key players and the plays to which they revert under pressure and writes these in a black book.

So when it came to penalties against the Netherlands in the EuroHockey Championships in 2015, Maddie had a strong idea of what each player would do with their penalty. She checked her book in between each, and saved three out of the four, taking the team to their first Euro win since 1991.

Whilst it isn’t quite the same as this in business, it is essential to know what the market is up to – where is the market going, what will be its next move and how will you meet that?

Whether you’re making your first steps into a new venture or running an established company that’s looking to grow, keeping an eye on the market, on your competitors and being prepared for their next move will stand you in good stead. We never really know what is around the next corner, but we can prepare ourselves as much as possible to meet whatever the future holds.

How do you prepare for the future? How did you find your USP? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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