How to Differentiate Yourself Without Losing Yourself

Published by Belong Magazine on February 20,2017

In a world filled with constant inspiration and innovation, it’s so hard to distinguish yourself from others, figuring out what makes you, as a small starting business, stand out. It can be frustrating coming up with an original idea that will be not only trendy and useful, but also marketable.

Personally, I spend hours trying to figure out my business plan as a freshly graduated twenty-something with a million ideas. Besides having a great product, you have to strategize logistics as well. Starting off a new sole proprietorship, you are your own manager, marketer, advertiser, accountant, designer, and on top of that—salesperson. As I’m busy juggling all of these positions in the launching of this project, I find myself struggling with doubt that I can even accomplish anything. I just keep telling myself over and over:

I cannot lose who I really am while in transition.

It seems simple. However, in the stressful, anxiety filled stage of starting a business, the time comes where you have to pitch your business to future customers. There’s when the lies start to sneak in. That little voice whispers, “This is a terrible idea.” or the “You’ll never make it.” or “What are you doing? You’re not smart enough, creative enough, good enough.”

You start to compare yourself with others and their successes. You start to doubt whether or not you can even accomplish such a daunting task of owning a small business. You think about logistical things like finances and how much you’re about to invest in. As the whispers get louder, you doubt more and more until you are ready to quit. You start to lose focus on your goals. You start to lose yourself.

What distinguishes yourself? Why would people rather come to you for your product or service than a competitor?

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  1. Look to the cross to find yourself.

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” –Romans 12:2

Don’t try to be anyone else. Customers are choosing your product over anyone else because they want you. At the end of the day, selling yourself is more important than selling your product. When a customer is deciding between two similar products, your product instantly becomes nothing but a commodity. A customer chooses you for you.

Being a creative, it’s so hard to not compare your work to others. It’s okay to admire people. It’s okay to look up to others. It’s okay to set goals.

It’s not okay to compare yourself. People don’t want you imitating another company. Original ideas are the ones that will get you noticed. Be weird. Be quirky. Do something totally off-the-wall. Be YOU. Your voice and your creativity matters.

Ultimately, comparing yourself will draw you farther away from the Lord. The more you compare in a business sense, the more you will feel dissatisfied with other aspects of your life.

“Nothing will rob your contentment in the Lord more than comparison.”

–Matt Chandler, The Village Church

God created us in His image all for unique purposes. You matter.

  1. Focus on the customer.

At the end of the business day, it’s all about the customer. It is vital to cater to their needs give them what they want. Show them features of your product that maybe would be specifically useful for their scenario. By getting to know their needs and wants from your product you are build relationships with customers. Having a good relationship will not only keep them coming back, but also will give you relative feedback on how to improve your business.

  1. Change the customer’s thinking

As you’re building relationships with customers, getting to know their needs and showing them the benefits of the product, let them know that what they are purchasing is an investment for them.

Don’t just sell your product to the person who will be quick to say, “yes” and move on without further thought. Make sure to sell to the person who will see the long term benefits. These types of customers will be the ones that advocate for you, spreading positive word-of-mouth, reviews and also give you useful feedback to improve your product.

  1. Use social media to its fullest potential.

Over the past few years, social media has exploded. Between Instagram and Facebook alone there are billions of users. Social media is not just for advertising.

Use social media for customer relationships, gaining them, keeping them and deepening them. Having high quality pictures and videos that show testimonies and the product in use are the most effective way to show new customers about your products offered. Thanks to the comments section on social media, you can easily get customer feedback

  1. Try not to stress.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait for Him to act” – Psalm 37:7

In a season of growth, we tend to over-think every little detail. Sometimes, plans fall through and don’t go our way. That’s when we get upset and the lies slowly start to sneak back in. Please remember:

God’s timing is perfect.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:19

  1. Remember to be still.

This one is tough. It’s sometimes so hard to find the quiet. Between starting a business, family, friends, church life, small group, or maybe even a second job, life is hectic.

I find the myself most creative in the quiet. When there’s nothing around me except my bible and the Lord’s presence, I take the most joy. Take time out of every day to be thankful for what He is doing, even the thing we may not understand.

It’s so important to remember to be still amongst the chaos. I found that even just 20 minutes of quiet time is beneficial. Don’t lose your relationship with God through all of the stress.  If you lessen your relationship with the Lord, you’ll lose yourself.

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
― C.S. Lewis

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