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While working on a startup in southern California years ago, my partners and I were having a difficult time getting funding. We were looking for bank financing, and got rejected by exactly 50 banks. We kept hearing the same messages, over and over again. "This market will chew you up and spit you out. You're a bad risk. You've never done this before. You'll be up against competitors that have been in business for years." And so we were faced with a choice: Give up, or keep going. So, believing that failure was not an option, we set up our 51st bank appointment and made our pitch...and got a loan!

Our entrepreneurial tenacity had paid off, but now we had another set of problems to overcome; namely, our market was threatening to chew us up and spit us out, we were taking a horrible risk, we had never done this before, and we were up against competitors who had been in business for years! However, this story ended well. Our sales took off and we quickly became a multi-million-dollar leader in our industry. And it did happen quickly! After only 18 months we were acquired by the world's largest company in our industry. What a ride!

How did we do it? By offering products and services that were better, faster AND cheaper. Normally, as entrepreneurs we think we can offer only two of these selling points at a time, but we found a way to offer all three simultaneously. Our motto was, "We're better, faster and cheaper than our competition. Other than that, we don't have a leg to stand on!" But it wasn't just something we said; it was something we did every day. And you can too, IF you work at it. One clarification: Depending on your industry and strategy, you can't always be the cheapest (and may not even want to be), but you can offer the highest perceived value.

There are strategies for beating the competition that will work in every startup. Contact me and I'll be happy to help you apply them to your venture.


Posted by Larry Myler
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