Business Advice

Setting your business apart: The Commons co-founder Cliff Ho on how to stand out in a crowded market

Cliff Ho /

standing out crowded market

The Commons co-founder and chief executive officer Cliff Ho. Source: Supplied.

Standing out in a crowded marketplace is often an issue many businesses come up against. While healthy competition in any industry is, of course, always welcome, many business owners will understand the feeling of wanting to be the best.

Striving for success is often stressful, but rewarding, and though it can be difficult to accept help in order to achieve results, business owners should be open to advice and tips that will help this mission.

Even as a business is established, it is important to use the planning process to nail the details to put you in good stead once operations begin. Mistakes may occur, but ultimately, lessons can be learnt and, as such, business owners should use all of this experience to ensure they maintain success and stand out in the crowd.

No one can profess to have the perfect formula for running a business, but generally, it’s the simplest advice that often proves most effective.

Be tactical

Having a unique selling point is not enough these days — it’s really important to understand your market by delving deeper into what makes that audience tick.

For instance, according to JLL research, 42% of the global coworking market is owned and run by just three large companies, and in Australia, there are currently about 300 coworking spaces. So there is a lot that needs to be done to stand out in a large pool of options, particularly against the ‘big guys’.

Whether this involves diving further into data that reveals details of the demographic or by asking the right questions in your own market research, the business’ unique selling point may not actually align with their needs.

Further to this, gaining and maintaining a share of voice is affected by so many factors. Your customers are your biggest voice —  look after them and they will sell your brand better than anyone else. However, naturally, strong branding, marketing and service is also part of the standard list of must-haves for any business looking to survive.

Back to basics

Sometimes business owners try to do too much and it has the opposite effect to what they hope to achieve — whether this is from a service perspective, or making revisions or additions to the business offering that may not be necessary. It is important to be smart about these things.

There are times to innovate and there are times where you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In many industries, the formula works and there is no need to try and change that.

Overall, it is important to focus on your target market and cater to their exact wants and needs. For instance, we know our members are receptive to great perks that add to their quality of life in the workplace, whether it be spin classes, a meditation studio, a basketball court, free breakfast or a maker space.

We also make sure our member base complements one another and fosters creativity and relationships, rather than just letting any business in.

More often than not, it is a matter of trusting your gut — but ultimately, keeping it simple helps not only your team and customer base but keeps the business moving forward.

More so, going back to basics means things as simple as remembering staff are the most important part of the business. It should always be the case. If you can create a great, flexible, fun and meaningful work environment, then they are happy and more motivated to help drive the business and help you succeed in a competitive industry.

Maintaining success and continue standing out

It’s been said many times before, but never be comfortable. A company’s biggest failure comes when we start to be too complacent. It’s important to always set new goals and increase the standard of work in order to deliver a better product and experience for your customer.

Put steps in place that allow you to strategically grow and maintain success, rather than riding the wave of popularity, and then falling flat. Of course, it’s great to take advantage of peaks over troughs, but look at businesses that grew too quickly without a strategic plan in place, or understanding the ‘why’, and reflect on where they went wrong.

Other ways to ensure continued growth and to remain prominent is spending time working on your marketing tactics — from branding and design to digital marketing and public relations (if relevant).

If you’re looking for inspiration and a reminder of how to operate, Spotify is the best case for this. They design a great product first and work backward. Profits, while of course important, should always come last.

NOW READ: “Execution is everything”: Here’s the number one reason Australian SMEs are going broke

NOW READ: How much is your customer-centric mantra costing you?

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Cliff Ho

Cliff Ho is the co-founder and chief executive officer of The Commons, one of Australia’s most creative coworking spaces. Cliff is also co-founder of The Commons Campus and end-to-end management startup Oreka.

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