Differentiate Your Business from Its Competitors

Differentiate Your Business from Its Competitors

There are three basic ways to position or differentiate your business from its competitors:

1. Be a market leader. Choose a particular market and focus on being the leader in that market.
2. Be unique. Offer something no one else or just a few shippers do.
3. Be a price leader. Focus on providing low cost services. Wal-Mart is a good example of a successful business built on this strategy.

Warning: Trying to be all things to all people will inhibit your growth. Instead, be the very best at something. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes what he calls the hedgehog concept. A hedgehog is an animal that protects itself by rolling into a ball that cannot be penetrated. Your marketing strategy should protect your business in exactly the same way.

Whatever direction you choose, commit to it and do everything you can to be the very best at what you do.

Next identify your company’s unique selling proposition. What makes your company different? Is it the way you communicate with your customers, your unique transportation services, the technology you use, or something else? Figure out what makes you “the purple cow” that stands out from everyone else. Even if your uniqueness is not 100% unique, treat it like it is. Make it work to your advantage.

Tip: Your unique selling point should be about more than your equipment or what you haul.

Once you are clear on what your unique selling proposition is, design everything about your business around it, and make sure that your employees fully understand it and know what they need must do to underscore it and deliver on it. Then, go after customers that are seeking that uniqueness, making sure that you clearly convey to them what distinguishes your business from the competition.

Tip: When you offer something unique, you can usually charge a bit more than firms that don’t offer what you do and/or you will be able to minimize your price competition.

Yet to Come……

Yet to Come……

Over the weekend, I watched Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri with my family. When it ended, my 15 year-old daughter was left unfulfilled because she didn’t know what was going to happen next. I told her that the ambiguity of ‘what’s next’ adds to the drama and texture of the story.

This conversation got me thinking about our collective need to know what happens next in our lives (and in the lives of others). We are overstimulated with bites of abject predictability. Our online platforms are directed by algorithmic certainty and similarity so there is little need to explore or challenge beyond our comfort zone. Unfortunately, reality is never quite so certain or so perfectly resolute.

While there are occurring factors that compound the uncertainty (universal entropy), the vector of our future is dictated by the choices that we make and the choices we do not make. Are the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously made, directed towards your desired outcome – or are they consistent with the present pathway of ‘good enough’?

By gaining clarity in your goal definition, you can see the structure of the decisions laid out before you. Through the lens of your goal(s), you can focus on the changes that need to be made from your current position along the path. The speed at which you reach the goal is also determined through choices – often requiring multiple interconnected choices from all members of your team/network/family.

The collaboration of focused decisions purposefully moves you towards your defined goal.

Use your choices to build the texture of your own story in its movement towards the ending you desire.

How effective is your team?  Identify and root out dysfunctional areas threatening your business.

How effective is your team? Identify and root out dysfunctional areas threatening your business.

In his leadership fable, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni defines the dysfunctions that hinder the development of a cohesive, effective team as Lack of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability and Inattention to Results. While each of these dysfunctions can damage your organization, when combined, they truly threaten its foundation and can lead to the dissolution of the organization.

Working with your team to overcome these dysfunctions will help reorganize and reenergize your business to fulfill the vision of growth and achievement.


Trust is built on a foundation of respect, vulnerability and experiential behaviors. Alignment to organizational goals, instead of contradictory self-interest based goals, sets the stage for greater collaboration. Make sure everyone understands the roles and expectations for each team member and how they impact the overall strategic plan helps to clarify the parts of the whole and the applicable responsibility.


Within any group of individuals, there is bound to be conflict of some kind. Too often, the conflict is not directly addressed or shared and remains hidden under the surface of conversations and meetings. Disagreements on direction and tactics are natural and should be communicated as they develop. The team should recognize that the opinions are tied to a desire to improve the organization and are not the ideological representation of the person. Disagreements and conflict should not be personal, but professional. Tying the opinion or idea to the persona of an individual can be detrimental for current and future projects.


Individual and collective commitment to the overarching vision and strategic plan for an organization is imperative to the achievement of its goals. Clarity in that vision and the regular communication of expectations are key components to building that commitment. Focus on the objectives, intrinsically energized by the commitment, drives and accelerates your team forward.


Accountability is the insurance for organizational risk. It also acts as the integrator for the other areas. Accountability begets trust from other team members by taking responsibility for activity and tactics, outlined in the strategic plan. Conflict can arise when productivity and results are not met. Use accountability as a focal point to discuss the how and why failure may occur and a champion for improving those areas toward achievement.


Results matter. Results are defined by the productivity against the metrics. If those results are not reviewed or addressed appropriately (either positively or negatively), the entire team loses their trust in both the measurements and in the culture that did not value the goals. If 90% of the financial goal is acceptable, neither the goal nor the effort to reach it have true value in the organization. Set the right goals and the right processes to achieve them.

When reviewing your team, in times of growth and in times of change, look for the potential roadblocks caused by these dysfunctions. Address these challenges before they rot the foundation of your organization and limit your ability to create a healthy and sustainable company.