The internet, social media, cloud computing, and digital marketing have made it incredibly easy to start a business. While in the past, you might have had to find some startup capital through a loan from a bank or some investors, leased commercial property, hired some staff, and bought a lot of inventory; today, all you need is a laptop and some spare time. And with PPC advertising, you could have customers in just a few hours.
That’s a great thing. It means more people than ever can follow their dreams, experiment with different creative ideas, and take their destiny into their own hands.
That’s why more and more people are beginning to set up side hustles. 45% of people in the United States report that they have a business that they run on the side of a full-time job, while that rate increases to 50% when looking at millennials. In the UK, the figure is around 25%, but it is growing quickly with 55% starting within the last two years.
While this simplicity is undoubtedly great, it doesn’t come without downsides. If it’s easy for you to start a business, then it’s also easy for others to do the same. Therefore, when you do get our side hustle or startup off the ground, you’re going to be facing an uphill struggle to get noticed.
It is, therefore, vital that you find ways to differentiate your business so that it doesn’t just become just another clone that blends into the background. To do this, you need to create a unique selling point (USP) — something that you can offer that others can’t.
Offer More Choice
One way to try to stand out is to offer more choice to your customers. Some people are happy with a standard, off-the-shelf option or may even feel paralysed by having too my options, but others like the creative freedom this affords them.
That’s how DIY milkshake bars have managed to compete against giants like McDonald’s. Of course, the golden arches offer a convenient and cheap option, but you’re limited to just three or four different flavours. But what if you don’t want a simple strawberry shake?
Brands like Shakeaway let you mix in just about anything with your milkshake from fruits like peaches or cherries to more exotic options like Nutella, carrot cake, or Haribo Starmix. Alternatively, if you’re feeling even more adventurous, its “really?” category of ingredients includes chilli, sweetcorn, and tahini.
Online casinos take a similar approach. Instead of just a handful of slot games, users have hundreds of different themed options to choose from. To stand out even more, some casinos have developed their own exclusive titles like Blitz Joker, 3 Switches, and Big Blue Bounty.
Be More Convenient
Sometimes, customers want convenience. While they may be able to get better quality by travelling to a shop that’s further away or save money by buying online. However, there are scenarios where you need convenience and speed.
For example, when your TV remote stops working and you don’t have any spare batteries or you’re craving a sandwich but your bread has gone stale. In these scenarios, a nearby convenience store is the best choice.
If you can somehow save your customers time and effort, many will be willing to pay a premium for your product or service.
Offer A Personal Service
People like to feel cared for. Some are even willing to pay a premium to receive this more hands-on approach from a business. These types of customers are often more likely to be loyal, returning time and time again, because they value the relationship that they have built with you.
Traditionally, this approach has not been scalable as it is time-consuming. Whether you’re helping a customer in person, over the phone, or via email, the attentiveness required to offer this personal service means you’re severely restricted as to how many customers you can handle in a day.
That’s why personal service has usually been offered only to customers willing to spend a lot of money, such as those with premium credit cards that come with a concierge service, and buyers who prefer to shop with local sole traders.
Today, technology is making it possible for business owners to offer a personalised service to more of their customers. By building algorithms that learn your preferences and those of others like you, websites and apps can suggest to you products that they think you might be interested in.