You might still be wondering about what’s behind the title of this book. It’s obviously not a cookbook! What it IS about is learning how to build a unique and differentiated company, offering a unique and differentiated line of products and services. The title is related to exactly that objective.
Most every child who grew up with a grandma around was quite happily familiar with her flair for cooking some special dish. Maybe it was lasagna or some other main course. More likely – kids being kids! – it was a fantastically yummy dessert. A special kind of pie or big, rich brownies that had special chewiness that no one but Grandma could match.
With my Grandma, the magical dish was meatballs – they were the best in the whole wide world. It was their taste that made them so special. Ok, well, also their size. And the ingre- dients. And how they were cooked. And…well, everything!
I begged my mother to make meatballs like Grandma’s. My mom tried, too. She tried hard, again and again and again, and her meatballs were good. Just never quite as amazing as Grandma’s. There was just something my grandma could do with those ingredients that no one else could. Hers were unique. Unique even though the recipe she followed was sim- ple, and not so different from any other meatball recipe.
Whatever it was that made those meatballs unique, it couldn’t be copied – it was inside Grandma’s head and in her heart. It would have been hard to put a price on it, too, since her’s couldn’t be compared to other meatballs fairly. They were so special (at least to me!) that they were priceless.
When you manage to achieve a similar uniqueness or special- ness with your company and its products and services, you will create a “Grandma’s meatball.” You can do the same with the company itself, turning it into a Grandma meatball, too. You’ll have formulated a recipe that no one but you and your team can duplicate. Such a thing is definitely, definitely hard to compete against. Having such a unique and special offering also allows you to set your own prices (within reason!).
Now, hang on here for a moment and realize that Grandma’s recipe didn’t just pop into existence overnight. No, it was carefully, and lovingly developed over time. It took years and years of adjusting and tweaking before it reached its peak of perfection.
Just as Grandma’s recipe was the result of innovation and evolution, so will be your “recipe” for a unique and priceless company. It takes time, creative thought and hard work. But if you continue developing and optimizing, you will end up with a secret recipe for a brilliant success.
When you look at a group of similar companies, offering simi- lar products, you’ll see that they are not differentiating them- selves from their competition. They are not offering any sort of secret recipe. They are doing business just as they always have, offering the same fundamental products and services.
Take mobile phone companies, for example. They offer you a phone, a phone line and a subscription for one or two years. They all do that. If one of them were to come up with a Grand- ma’s meatball of an idea and market it well, that company would soar above the others; leaving their competition in the dust.
Let’s take a closer look at a company that has come up with a brilliant and unique idea – a real Grandma recipe. The compa- ny is called Billy’s Billing (www.billysbilling.com); a company I’m personally involved with. Billy’s offers a non-traditional online accounting system – but Billy’s also has everything that makes a company unique, thoroughly different from its competitors. Here are a few of those differentiators:
1. The company’s website does not look like any other provider of accounting software. We have worked hard
on the design and navigation of the site, to make it the very best in terms of visitor-friendliness. We want it to be seen as exceptional by users and prospective custom- ers of course, but also by people who understand web design and usability.
Billy’s Billing really separates itself from all other ac- counting companies with its product: – accounting software. Most accounting software focuses on num- bers, rules, calculations – things only an accountant could love. Instead, Billy’s focuses very, very strongly on answering the two questions dearest any entrepreneur’s heart: (1) “Am I making money, or am I losing money?” and (2) “How well is my business performing?” That’s it!
2. The name is original and includes a term that directly describes a key part of the service offered: billing. When
a company’s name is distinctively different from the names of other companies in the same general market, it stands out and people tend to remember it.
3. The product offered is distinctively different. Billy’s Billing isn’t just another version of the same old debit-and-credit accounting software available from every other firm. It is a program is designed to help smaller businesses with their finances in an easy, inex- pensive and smart way – and without their having to hire an accountant or accounting firm. The program’s terms and processes are easily understood. Even a new start-up business can get the hang of accounting quickly and easily with Billy’s Billing.
4. The program doesn’t require a sophisticated end user. Most accounting software is meant for use by bookkeepers and accountants, who are already very fa- miliar with accounting’s specialized language, principles and procedures. Billy’s Billing software is written for use by any business person.
5. The market is full of competitors, but no one has the same profile – accounting made readily accessible to newbies and smaller businesses. Specialized techni- cal terms and processes have been replaced with logical, easily-mastered, hands-on steps.