Gaining a Competitive Advantage: Part 1

Pay It Forward.

Gaining a competitive edge is one of the most important milestones in building any company, especially a startup.

But what does it mean to gain competitive advantage? Ultimately, it’s having an edge over your competition. Defining a competitive advantage is a challenge. It’s especially conflicting and difficult when your competition consists of your peers, your mentors, your colleagues, and even your friends.

It all comes down to value. A competitive edge is gained by creating a GREATER value to your customers and your partners. Often times that’s accomplished by offering lower prices or additional benefits. Sometimes it’s created by justifying premium pricing for premium services put out by established businesses with highly decorated leadership in place. Or, for startups, it’s offering the first to market niche idea that everyone has to have.

Whatever your competitive advantage strategy is, essentially we all have to answer the question, “Why should our customers purchase from us versus the competition?”

There are various strategies that I plan to touch upon during this series, but first and foremost, for @IntrinsicEvents, our strategy to gain a competitive advantage has been to Pay It Forward.

What does it mean to Pay It Forward?

The concept of Paying It Forward is not new. It dates all the way back to 317 BC, where it was used as strategic plot in ancient Athens. However, it became more mainstream after the 2000 movie, Pay It Forward, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and that kid from the Sixth Sense (I highly recommend any entrepreneur to watch it if you haven’t already).

In the most simplest explanation, paying it forward means doing something for someone out of kindness and not expecting anything in return. As the receipt of an act of paying it forward, you don’t pay them back directly, but you pass it on to another.

Ok so what is the point of all this? We’re in business to make money, experience growth, and build teams. How does paying it forward play a role and contribute to these goals?

Because it’s proven that acts of kindness builds exponentially in a community and because deep down people believe that one good deed deserves another. It’s the golden rule in its finest form. Think about it, by building a community based around the pay it forward concept you are creating a following, creating a culture, and ultimately defining your values and brand within your business community.

Paying It Forward not only creates the world a better place. It makes the world (especially our entrepreneurial world), a more successful place.

Why does Paying It Forward Give You a Competitive Advantage?

In my experience as an entrepreneur in the Baltimore startup community, I’ve learned that those companies who pay it forward are ultimately….

-       Obtaining the ability to recruit better talent because XX company is “A Great Place to Work For” - resulting in having that premium talent as an advantage.

-       Taking advantage of word of mouth, the most inexpensive and effective form of marketing

-       Surrounding themselves with like-minded people (because in reality, we like being around people who are doing kind and good things for us)

-       Experiencing the pure Intrinsic Motivation that comes from helping others do well and make money

-       Creating a culture of respect and admiration within your peers, partners, and employees

-       Generating referrals that gives the ability to maintain a steady source of income throughout peak and low business periods

To be successful in building a business and being an entrepreneur, you need to identify those activities at which you and your company excel, not just the activities in which you perform equally well with your competition. In a very competitive environment, @IntrinsicEvents, myself @JesGignac , and by biz partner @IntrinsicRach, truly succeed  in the ability to maintain an intrinsically motivated mindset and pay it forward at all times. That’s our competitive advantage.

So, I’d love to know, what does paying it forward mean to you and what ways does your company pay it forward?