I think it’s human nature to focus on our shortcomings. Instead of seeing the happiness captured in a photograph, we focus on our crooked smile or lousy haircut. Rather than appreciating the wonderful view from the windows of our retail store, we fret about the parking shortage.
To a certain degree, though, being critical can help us excel. Think about it…if you could identify weaknesses and transform them into strengths, your company would benefit big time!
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of turning weakness into strength:
1. A difficult name
Nobody understands this problem better than I do. I’m an author and a public speaker, so my name is everything to me; it’s both my identity and my brand. But my last name is…well…challenging. People aren’t sure how to pronounce it, and they damn sure aren’t comfortable with spelling it. What have I done? I’ve handled the weakness with humor, and it’s made my brand even stronger. My website plays with the difficulty of my last name, and my email signature includes the phonetic pronunciation. (It’s mi-'kal-ō-wits, just in case you’re curious.) So instead of making a prospective client feel idiotic because my name makes them uncomfortable, I address the problem head-on. Weakness no longer!
2. Lousy reviews and ratings
Any author will tell you that one-star ratings can kill a book. And the same holds true whether you’re a building contractor or a pizza joint. We live and die by our reviews. But you’re inevitably going to get them, so it’s wise to look for ways to turn them to your advantage. When one of my books came out, I got a phone call from a professor I held in high esteem. He’d read my book, and while he thought the principles in it were sound, he didn’t like my casual, in-the-trenches language. He found it insufficiently academic. What did I do? I asked him to write a review. He was shocked. Why did I do it? Because what he objected to is exactly what my readers love about my books. They don’t want stuffy talk. They want practical solutions. His one-star review was great for my book sales!
3. Being the priciest option
Here’s the deal: If you’re competing on price, you’re never going to be as profitable as you could be. Consumers who price shop are notoriously fickle, and any discount will pull them to your competitor. So if you’re the most expensive option, flaunt it! Sell yourself as the elite, top-of-the-line choice, and demonstrate why you’re worth the premium price. You’re setting yourself apart from your competition, and you’re appealing to consumers who are willing to pay more for quality. You have to make sure you deliver that quality, of course, but your profit margin will make it all worthwhile.
Every company and every person has weaknesses. There’s no way around it, but there are – if you’re creative – ways to turn those shortcomings to your advantage. Leverage what others may consider a weakness and transform them into brand-building points of difference.
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”