One of my all-time favorite business books is Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow”. The essence of the book, though I would still encourage you to read it yourself, is that each business must distinguish itself to be successful. If you drove through farmland past pasture after pasture of cows, you’d soon become bored with seeing cows. Seen one cow, seen…you get it. But if you saw a purple cow, you’d slam on the brakes and jump out of the car with camera in hand. Your Facebook page would immediately have a picture of a purple cow and those pictures would get re-posted by friends. Word of your discovery would spread rapidly.

I’ve given the book to a lot of people. About 2/3 actually read it. Of those, only about 1/3 finish the whole book.

The comment I hear back most often is, “good concept but it doesn’t apply to my business.”

If you truly believe you cannot distinguish your business from your competition, your business is doomed to treading water until it tires and sinks. Are you struggling now? Are you busy but not as profitable as you’d like to be?

Are you experiencing price pressure? (Price pressure is very common and dangerous in a tight economy)

Is foreign competition breaking in to your market? Are you gaining or losing market share?

You know the answers to those questions.

What is so odd to me is that this country was built on what we used to call “rugged individualism”.

Today most people fear standing out, being different or too weird. There are companies that will not read a resume unless it’s submitted on white paper! If I needed to hire someone and I received 100 ‘resumes’, I’d start my review with whatever came in on anything but white paper—and I would hope to get at least a few that weren’t even on paper! Paper? Give me a break.

I’m not saying your business has to be weird, but it must be different. It must stand out in the herd.

How? That’s up to you but don’t keep it a secret like “we give the best service” yawn. Or “we make the best widget” yawn. Stand out. Be outstanding.

And stop being so damn afraid of being different. This isn’t high school and your business depends on it.

Chris Reich