In business and leadership circles, you often hear the term “status quo” tossed around. The term comes from Latin and literally means “existing state.”
Perhaps you’ve never thought about business or leadership this way, but the very purpose of anything you do in that realm is to challenge the status quo.
You are saying to the market, “I’m not satisfied with the current products and services in my niche. I think I can do better or add value in some unique way.” You’re also challenging the status quo on a personal level because you are taking on risk and responsibility that was not there before.
Business Artists operate in sort of a twilight zone between art and business (hence the name). No matter what type of work you do, or the type of organization or company you work with, you must ask yourself three questions that will give you clarity as you try to bring innovation to the market.
1. Why Change?
The very act of bringing something to market is, in a sense, a “declaration of war” on the status quo. You’re saying, “I bring something different, unique, and valuable.”
It takes a lot of courage to do this. Of course, creating a product or service is no guarantee that people will use it or buy it. But the very act of putting something out there is worthwhile in itself because it forces the market to reconsider what people want and need.
To answer the question of “Why change?” you have to understand the pain points of your potential customers or clients. What is lacking in the current offerings in your niche? What can be improved, and how can you address these needs?
If you can identify the reasons you’re different and articulate that in a compelling way, it sets you apart from your competition.
2. Why Now?
Timing is everything in the world of business. Your potential customers or clients need to understand why they should take action now instead of waiting until later.
A simple way to think about the “Why now?” question is to help people think about what’s at stake.
What will they lose? What opportunities will they miss? What pain will they suffer if they don’t act now?
- If you’re an author, what’s at stake if people don’t read your book now?
- If you’re a real estate agent, what’s at stake if they don’t work with now, as opposed to six months from now?
- If you’re a coach, what’s at stake if people don’t buy your program or hire you?
- If you offer a B2B product or service, what sales will the company miss out on if they don’t sign up?
Sometimes we try to convince people to buy based on the benefits our product or service offers. But it’s also worthwhile to think about the pain or negative consequences of waiting.
3. Why You?
People have lots of choices. What makes you different and unique? What is the value you offer they can’t find anywhere else?
Maybe it’s a particular way you do your thing. Maybe it’s a personal touch you add. Maybe it’s a set of features your product has that don’t exist anywhere else. Maybe your company has a legacy that isn’t shared by others.
For example, Martin Guitars started in 1833. You won’t find any other American guitar company that has the legacy of Martin. Not even close! Their whole brand is based on tradition and legacy. That’s their defining feature.
Meanwhile, Taylor Guitars, founded in 1974, has always been focused on innovation. Decade after decade, Bob Taylor and his team have pushed the guitar industry forward with countless innovations such as “V-class bracing” and leading the guitar industry in sustainability practices.
If you answer these three fundamental questions–Why Change?, Why Now?, Why You?--it will go a long way toward helping you define your USP. It’s also more fun because you have a clearer idea about what makes you different.