In a recent podcast, I heard Seth Godin (entrepreneur, speaker, and writer of 18 books) say something that intrigued me. Paraphrased: “The goal should not be to become big fast, but rather to become important soon.”

In an entrepreneurial world that talks endlessly about scalability, this sounded like something completely out of left field. As I began to let this thought sink in, I started to realize just how true this statement really is. It is easy to replace importance with lingo such as stickiness, value-added, product fit, etc., but in doing so we lose the rightfulness that importance plays in determining the outcome of our business pursuits. We should be very careful not to substitute other things for ‘being important’ to our customers.

So what does it mean to be important? There are a few synonyms that shed light on the term such as essential, imperative, indispensable, necessary, and others that you might add, but moreover the real question lies in how you become these things. Here I will give you two success factors to ‘being important’ in your business.

1. Become Unique

To create that essential and necessary value, we need to find that thing that we do that is not easily copied in the marketplace. What is it that provides the magic to our story? There are many avenues to being unique in the marketplace…it could be product, technology, or business model, or maybe your story is built on a unique service that you can provide. The important thing is that every person within your enterprise knows exactly what that uniqueness is built upon, and that it becomes the laser focus of your work. Without it, any idea is susceptible to being copied and commoditized. Find the magic!

2. Become Compelling

Many times we make an awful mistake that starts with an assumption such as ‘what’s compelling to me will be compelling to everyone’, which is just the human misinterpretation of invoking the ‘golden rule’ philosophy into business. Just because WE would want something does not make it so for every potential customer. Finding a compelling story that relates to the target audience is a critical success factor. Why is it so critical…the story that the customer tells THEMSELVES is the decision factor that drives the importance of the purchase. Find the problem that is being solved, the itch that is being scratched, the dream that is being enabled…these are the compelling reasons that make your business something that a customer believes they cannot live without. If your customers believe in your business, they will talk about it…they will demand their friends try it…they will try to help you find more customers. Tell the story!

If you are compelling and unique, does that automatically make you important? Maybe not, but I believe it is impossible to become important without these two critical factors. Don’t just assume that you understand. Continuously screen for importance and a scalable business may follow.

Ken Durand is the Director of MindSparq, the Dover Corporation Ideation laboratory at Tech Square in Atlanta. Part corporate innovator and part entrepreneur, connect with Ken on LinkedIn.

#entrepreneurship #leadership

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