3 Steps To A Sustainable Competitive Business Advantage

Today there are very few sustainable competitive business advantages. Creating a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that sets you apart from the competition is not enough anymore. If you want to be a winner in today's high competitive business markets, learn to operate in a world of unsustainable advantages - by building "layers" of competitive business advantages by improving, changing, adapting, learning faster than your enemy.

Creating a unique sustainable competitive business advantages is the dream of every entrepreneur, inventor or small business who desires outrageous business success.


In order to succeed in business, you can NOT be like everybody else. You need to stand out from the crowd. Always keep in mind that you don't want to be "just another fish in the sea." You want to be the biggest, brightest and fastest fish in the sea! So how do you do this? You create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A USP is what makes you different from the crowd. It is what separates you from your competition and gets you noticed.

But creating a USP in today's competitive world is not enough anymore. In today's business world, the brightest and most educated and well funded people are working day and knight to find better, cheaper and faster ways to serve the same customers you are serving. 

If you want to be a winner in today's high competitive business markets, learn to operate in a world of unsustainable advantages - by building "layers" of advantages 

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” 

- Sun Tzu, The Art of War -

How do you create a competitive edge? 

The first key to creating a competitive edge in the market is to decide on your Main strategy. You can be a great baseball player or a great football player, but not both. To be great at one thing means focus.  Focus your resources, activities, skills, energy and money on that one thing. The one thing that will give you the best edge, and go after it with a vengeance.  

From your main strategy, you create your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that is in line with this strategy.

There are only 3 ways that you can differentiate yourself.

How To Develop Competitive Edge for business

You have to be good at all three in any business, but you have to specialize or master only one. You can only do this by analyzing your competitors in the market to see where the Gap is.

Best Price - This means you are able to create your product at a low cost. It does not mean you can make the least amount of profit. Any idiot can cut prices, and a price war it the last thing you want to get into. If you choose to compete on price, ask: "Can we afford it? Can we hold out? What happens afterwords?

Best Product/service - Focused on quality, most added value, great design

Best customer service - Total focus on service, experience, speed, friendliness, consistency and convenience.

Know yourself, competitors and customers.

Do you know who your competitors are? What is their main strategy? What value do they offer? If you don't, find out fast.

Knowing what business you’re in is the second key to creating your competitive edge.  Start with the basics. Know what your business is – what you’re selling, to whom and why, and who your competition is. Use a SWOT analysis, it's a simple, yet highly effective method for conducting an analysis on a business, product or service.

To stand out from the competition, your job is to find something special about your product or service and make your market aware of it.  

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” 

- Sun Tzu, The Art of War -

Start by realizing that people tend to buy what they want, not what you think you offer. Your competitive edge must be something that the customer need, not what you are selling. For example: It's not the technology - "how it works" - it's what it enables them to do. The benefits that you offer is what your customer gets, Not how it works.

The big question isn’t “what's your product or service”?, but rather ‘Why should I do business with you versus all other competitive options available, including doing nothing at all? For instance, identify your competitive edge by answering these questions.

  1. What are thing that your business you are great at, or can become great at?
  2. What is the one thing only your business can offer?
  3. What are your business the best at or can become the best at?

Your product is the only one that (does what? State the pain or problem the customer has) for (whom) by (state the solution your product/service solves) ... better than any other product in the world.

Your competitive edge must tell your customers what you do for them, not just what you do. What is the main benefit they get from doing business with you? What problem are you solving for them?

Start by looking at your and your competitor's customers. What are they complaining about and for what are thy praising you for? Make a point of asking them what are they looking for in a service/ product like yours. This should give you a good idea of what they are looking for.

Now it's time to create your  USP(Unique Selling Proposition)!

3-Step Formula to Create Your USP!


Step 1: Ultimate Competitive Advantage:

]What one benefit does your customer get, that they won’t get from a competitor?  Over benefit to make your product or service different from all others. By doing this you can increase your sales by up to 300%. If you keep your Ultimate Advantage as simple as possible, sales can increase even more. For example: Fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes or it’s free.


Step 2: Sensational Offer: 

Do you recognize a great deal when you see it? Two T-shirts for the price of one! Now that’s a great offer. What bonus could you offer to sweeten your deal? An extended warranty, a special discount, a special report, surprise bonuses? Something that doesn’t cost much but gives high-perceived value to your customer. The secret is Value up and Cost down! Forget "either-or" strategies


Step 3: Powerful Promise:

Your guarantee offers a clear, unmistakable, no-questions-asked guarantee. Then supercharge it. For example “Your meal in 30 minutes or it’s free” Now that’s a promise with teeth! Make powerful promises that you can keep. Find out what kind of frustrations your target customers experience when buying or using your kind of product/service and build your guarantee around that. Give Reason to Believe, proof that you can deliver as promised

Customers will not spend their money until they believe you will deliver on your Ultimate Advantage. Show them your credentials, use testimonials, use a guarantee, and let people sample your product for free.

After you have found your USP,  you must enthusiastically communicate and share it to all, if your customers, prospects, and staff don't know why you are so great and unique, it won't do you much good. It is your job to tell them, not their job to find out!

Build "layers" of competitive advantages

The third key to creating your competitive edge is to develop layers of competitive advantages in the Top 6 Key Success Drivers of your businessMoney, Management, Marketing and Sales, People, Product and Service, Systems. 

You can add even more. Here is my top 10 for a better competitive advantage? 


Learn faster than competitors - It's the key strategic weapon of the future.


Small continues improvements over the long term are far more powerful and sustainable than "big bang" changes.


Change before your competitors do or before they force you to.


Hire the best people you can find. It gives you a head start. The cost for bringing an OK performers on, is always greater than you think


Make your suppliers your partners, and they will help make you rich


All competitors are not mortal enemies. Life is easier when there's healthy rivalry

Maximize profitability without taking on more debt - Maximize what you have. Many competitors will not be prepared for the next economical downturn.

Create foresight -The ultimate business advantage, by developing what-if scenarios in your business planning

Success is a numbers game. Know, measure and manage your Key Performance Indicators better than your competitors.
The antidote to business death is positive cash flow - from operations (not borrowed money). To be competitive you have to stay in business.

Action steps

  1. Create a list of things that your business you are great at, or can become great at.
  2. Create a list of things that your competitors are great at.
  3. Eliminate any of the above advantages where you and your competitors are equal.
  4. Create a list of things that customers are complaining about the competition and for what are they praising you for and compare it to your list.
  5. This will give you a great indication where you create benefits for your customer and a great competitive advantage.
  6. Create your USP
  7. Communicate and share it to all
  8. Build extra "layers" of advantages by improving, changing, adapting and learning faster than your enemy.

Thanks for reading the post.

Talk soon.


About the Author Hans

Hans had 40 of his own businesses over the last 30 years and is famous for creating fast-growing businesses” He is an author, speaker, coach, and consultant and a specialist in business optimization and turnaround, helping smaller business owners eliminate business limitations, threats, and growth challenges in achieving their sales, profit, cash flow, and income goals with sniper precision.

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