How To Stand Out As a Leader In a Saturated Online Market

Fit in, or stand out? Serve existing markets, or serve those in untapped markets? As the online marketplace becomes increasingly saturated for entrepreneurs, and the amount of information available to us online leaves us feeling increasingly overwhelmed, we reach a point where we have no choice but to pull back and reassess what is important to us.

What is commonly referred to as the red or blue ocean strategy, business owners can create an offer so unique and differentiated that they can stand out in the market instead of drowning in a blood-stained red ocean. 

Here are 3 ways you can stand out in a saturated market online, more so from a humane level rather than a strategic level.

Realize what is true for you, not what is true for others

It is easy for people to follow the cookie-cutter strategies of how things have always been done. But as the world, society, and humans evolve, so does the way we do business.

Many find this challenging because they lack a deep level of awareness and trust in themselves. They’re afraid that if they tapped into their own intuition and deep inner-knowing, it might not bring them the success they see everyone else achieving.

Long-lasting and sustainable success in business comes from doing what feels good to you, every step of the way. While you can achieve success following other strategies, if it doesn’t feel good to you, it will leave you feeling uninspired and unfulfilled.

Related: Go WIth Your Gut: How To Use Your Intuition To Succeed In Business

Challenge the status quo of business

As humanity evolves into heightened levels of awareness and consciousness, we naturally begin to create a new paradigm of business.

Challenging the status quo is not a common desire amongst leaders. According to Harvard Business Review, 72 percent of leaders say they rarely, or never or rarely challenge their status quo in business.

Leading and serving from the inside out means we learn to know ourselves first and foremost. This can be a fulfilling journey of self-discovery for many, finding their own purpose and truth, which can become largely suppressed when we work in a typical traditional job that isn’t aligned with our highest desires. 

To challenge the status quo of business comes with making one fearless and courageous decision at a time.

Related: Is Your Status Quo Killing Your Business?

Find your “Zone of Genius”

Gay Hendricks identifies 4 different zones of genius in his book, The Big Leap.

In the “zone of genius,” we can zone in on and capitalize on our innate gifts and abilities that come naturally to us. In this zone, we become in flow and realize what we are uniquely gifted at, often finding ourselves skilled in a specific area more so than others. 

In Hendricks’ book, he prompts you to ask yourself what you do you do that doesn’t seem like work, and what brings you ultimate joy, satisfaction, and abundance at the same time.

Related: 8 Reasons To Find Joy In Your Job

Ultimately, standing out in a saturated market online is about identifying what comes naturally to you and capitalizing on that unique gift and skill. We often attempt to do things that come naturally to other people, mimicking their steps and strategies while ignoring or denying our truest and inner-most skills and gifts. 

To live a whole and fulfilling life, we must enjoy what we do, including how we run our business on a day-to-day basis. By focusing on what feels good to you (and not others), we can ultimately achieve the levels of joy and freedom we are all seeking. 

Kelly Wing Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

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How Entrepreneurs Can Use Data Aggregation to Grow Their Business

One of the rising tech sectors today is data aggregation with many millennials coming to the forefront of the industry to bundle information and convey it in a summary form.

Aggregating is all around us

To fully understand what data aggregation is, let’s look at this example: Data-collecting companies, like Facebook, gather intelligence such as likes or page-visits users consume. This information is carefully organized to promote ads or document what users see in their feeds. In business using behavior metrics such as the number of transactions, or average age of the consumer, helps the company focus on bestsellers. 

Related: Opportunity For Startups in Manufacturing, Logistics and Supply Chain

What does this mean to the average entrepreneur? Using these kinds of systems can pinpoint and increase productivity to boost sales and growth

Related: [Funding Alert] Healthtech Start-Up Innovate Raises $70 Million

Dollars for data

Vasiliy Fomin is an excellent example of someone currently cashing in by way of running a data aggregator, bundling information from various sources into a single API, and allowing all types of businesses to power their offerings to consumers. He’s been able to build a thriving business earning millions in revenue by selling aggregated vehicle data, arrest record data, and more to a network of qualified resellers. 

For entrepreneurs, research and development are essential in understanding the market behavior so as to provide the best services to their customers. Data aggregators embrace innovations, new ideas and critical questioning by syncing with the industry’s changing trends in various aspects like leading, hiring, retaining and technology.

Related: 4 Ways Businesses and Consumers Can Take Back Their Data

By: Luis Jorge Rios Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

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Want Influence? Use Intelligent Curiosity

One of the most beneficial skills entrepreneurs can develop is how to apply intelligent curiosity to everyday situations. Even better is to develop situational awareness alongside the skill of intelligent curiosity. Situational awareness is commonly taught in law enforcement. It’s where you are consciously aware of what’s going on around you. It’s a 360-degree awareness of both threats and opportunities. An example of this strategy is to sit with your back to a wall or in a position where you can see everything and everyone around you.

With a high level of awareness, you are more prepared to recognize opportunities others will walk right past. However, “seeing” opportunities is not enough. Being curious enough to investigate those opportunities is where entrepreneurial success is often found. This is where the application of intelligent curiosity comes into play.

Intelligent curiosity is directed, focused, strategic, and intentional. It is not conventional curiosity where we find things to be “interesting.” It’s where we become deeply interested in not only what’s directly in front of us, but pay attention to the periphery — the edges around the focus of our desire that very likely impact or influence it. This is called edge learning, and intelligent curiosity is a key element of it.

Related: Curiosity Is the Key to Discovering Your Next Breakthrough Idea

As an example, an entrepreneur’s focus might be on the development of a single product or service. An edge learner widens their lens to see what other opportunities this product or service might create or what threats there may be against the development of the product or its need in the marketplace. This wide-angle lens creates situational awareness. Are there accessories that might make the product or service more useful such as protective cases for mobile phones? Are there other uses for the product that requires a different type of marketing? 

Proctor & Gamble launched Febreze as a spray that could remove bad smells such as cigarette smoke or pet odors from fabric. It bombed. People who live with bad smells every day aren’t often aware of them. Developers decided instead to add a perfume to the product and market it as a spray to be used after cleaning. Instead of an “odor eliminator,” it sold well as an “air freshener.”  

Those who develop and use intelligent curiosity are more successful entrepreneurs and they often become recognized as thought leaders. Having worked with and studied dozens of thought leaders in today’s marketplace, I’ve noted their high levels of intelligent curiosity. They’re always asking questions, seeking knowledge from everyone they encounter. No matter their industry or level of financial success, they’re always on the alert. They tune in to what I call their “frequency of greatness,” their ability to dial into the problems and solutions, and ask questions such as, “What caused that to happen?” “Why was that the best solution?” “Who or what was impacted by that situation and in what ways?” 

Legendary thought leaders like master sales trainer Tom Hopkins and business expert Sharon Lechter dispense volumes of wisdom to entrepreneurs worldwide, but when I first sat down with them, they wanted to know about my experiences and what I was focused on and why. They exercise intelligent curiosity in every encounter. Working with Tom taught me that he practices what he teaches, “When you’re speaking, you can only deliver what you already know. When you ask questions of others, you are learning — gaining new knowledge that allows you to better understand them and their needs.”

Implementing strategies of intelligent curiosity can help entrepreneurs more fully enjoy the roller coaster ride of business. It allows them to open their minds to new ideas, to pivot, transition and adapt as the marketplace requires. In fact, the edge learning skill of intelligent curiosity will lead them to celebrate the inevitable challenges or failures and capitalize on them. 

Rather than walking away from stumbling blocks, they’ll learn who put the blocks there and why. The knowledge gained from intelligent curiosity will help them to move the blocks out of the way, climb over them or, on some occasions, choose an entirely different path. 

As a former private investigator, intelligent curiosity was instrumental in my success. When I would get a case, I would work diligently to explore multiple avenues to get the answers I needed. I’d allow myself to fall down the occasional rabbit hole in doing so. Being open to many different possibilities helped me to uncover the truth. My law-enforcement background taught me to tune in to valuable information through my eyes and ears. I discovered more through listening and through what is known as kinesthetic sense — how our muscles and organs of our bodies react. Heightening awareness allows us to quickly understand much about how others are feeling and how they might react to situations.

Intelligent curiosity is a learnable skill; it requires a commitment to the craft and ongoing practice. But do not mistake it for an add-on or luxury skill. It’s vital to your success in all areas of life. It provides the insights necessary for envisioning innovation. It will help you recognize when to put ideas across, when to act and when not to act.  

Related: Cultivating Curiosity Is What Drives Innovation

Intelligent curiosity goes against the grain of our own tendencies because of the depths it can take us to. Our innate curiosity desires quick answers and simple solutions. But that is not often what’s required of success. More often, success is not a product of doing what everyone else would do — success is mutant behavior. You cannot follow normal processes and become largely successful. Those processes may work for a short time, but without constant innovation, they will inevitably become outdated and fail or fade over time. Intelligent curiosity drives people to act and think creatively, be more attentive and thereby create new ways of knowing. Ultimately, the results of intelligent curiosity are the origin of success. 

By: Lisa Patrick Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

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Quiz

How a Personal Commitment Helps Your Business Grow

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There are numerous reasons for starting a , including pursuing a passion, wanting to set your own hours and wanting to make more . But if you’re not committed to a larger purpose, all those reasons may not be enough for your business to succeed.

What Is a Commitment?

A commitment can be defined in three ways:

1. It gives you purpose. Let’s define a commitment as a greater purpose for your life that drives you forward every day. Many studies have shown that purpose even leads to longer life for men and women alike.

2. It’s never finished. A commitment is not, “I want to own a successful business,” because that doesn’t give you lifelong purpose. A commitment will never truly be finished, and you’ll work towards it for many years.

3. It’s personal. Although having a purpose in your business is important, your commitment is personal. It will affect all areas of your life, including business, and it will impact how your business grows.

Related: Communicating Purpose Can Create a Boom in Business

What’s the difference between a goal and a commitment?

A goal is defined as a result that you aim for, define, plan for and then achieve. You have many short-term and long-term goals in life, but a commitment goes beyond even the most long-term goal. It’s not something you finish doing, but something you constantly work towards.

How does a commitment help your business?

It helps you focus. A lack of focus can be extremely detrimental to your business, not only from day to day but on a larger scale. To succeed in your business and complete each day’s, month’s and year’s goals, you need intense focus more so than a long period of focus.

Warren Buffet’s “2-List” strategy for focused attention is a perfect illustration of focus: defining your priorities and eliminating the rest. You write down your goals, and then circle the top five. Then you don’t just prioritize these — you eliminate the rest.

Commitments help you make that list and then define your top five. If you’re hyper-focused on a commitment, you can be focused on each of your business’s projects and goals, because they all lead to the one thing you’re most focused on. If something doesn’t align with your commitment, you eliminate it.

Commitment helps you set and achieve goals

A commitment is lifelong; it’s something you may never fully achieve. But you can set goals along the way to get you ever-closer to your commitment. And your business’s goals and success are intertwined with your commitment.

My leadership coach, Jose Bolanos, who trains leaders to form “noble commitments,” describes goals as “islands on the horizon.” Before you reach a shore, you will swim from island to island, focusing on something closer on your way to the far-off mainland.

These islands are steps towards your commitment, and these become your goals. Commitments matter to your business goals because they define what those goals will be and give them a larger purpose.

As a business owner, developing goals for yourself and your business will be easier when you create them in the context of a commitment. Instead of defining your success according to money, which as we know can be fickle, defining it based on a larger purpose will help you stay afloat in difficult times, and redirect accordingly.

Commitment gives your business a higher purpose

As I said before, having a higher purpose is important to business. Businesses with purpose are more successful, outperforming the by 42 percent, according to the 2018 Global Leadership Forecast.

Because in theory, your business should be an extension of you and your life, your personal commitment should inform your business’s purpose and help it succeed. If your commitment was, “I want to impact others,” your business’s commitment should reflect this and put it into action.

Commitment makes you a better leader

Compartmentalizing your life won’t help your business succeed. Who you are and what you do as an individual should and does affect your professional life, and by extension the lives of others.

Having a personal commitment that you connect to your business’s purpose will intertwine your personal development and your company’s growth. As you work on yourself as an individual, you will become a better leader, because your purpose will be directly connected to your business’ vision.

How do you find and define a commitment?

Defining a commitment comes from answering three questions:

1. What do you want? Discovering your commitment comes from defining what you want. A commitment is going to be terrifying (and if it’s not, you may be doing something wrong) and require you to change.

2. Why does it matter? Going back to the importance of purpose, studies found that people who helped others felt they had more purpose in life and lived a better life because of it. A commitment should matter to you, your community and the world.

3. Who does it benefit? It’s fine if the answer is just you for now, but you’ll find as you go that your commitment, especially as it becomes part of how you run your business, will begin to impact many people. If impacting people is part of your purpose, then this answer is even simpler.

Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Combine Profit and Purpose

Don’t be tempted to turn finding a commitment into a journey of self-discovery. Your business (and you) need a commitment sooner. Instead, define a commitment quickly, start working on it and evolve it.

By: JC Hite Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

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