Business Advice

The four features that every extraordinary business has in common

- July 7, 2022 5 MIN READ
Lineup of men in business suits with one man floating away holding a bunch of red balloons

Futurist business designer and strategist, Melissa Pepers, says that if you want to move your business beyond ordinary and become extraordinary, you’ll need these four essential attributes.

An ordinary business has been done before. Each year, most new businesses flood already saturated categories and it has detrimental impacts on everything from revenue to quality of life.

Businesses servicing needs that already have alternatives reduce customer loyalty while increasing price sensitivity. These ‘done before’ businesses follow marketplace trends which result in all businesses looking like one another, who then try to differentiate but fail after following the same techniques.

The businesses that do this are here today, gone tomorrow, just like the trend; or are stuck on a relentless hamster wheel of leapfrogging the competition with surface-level differences. Done before businesses chase revenue as the only measure of success, ensuring when it’s time to feast, there’s few hours left in a day to enjoy it.

In a global context, we need new ideas if we are to create a different future. We don’t need more of the same, ordinary businesses.

Four traits every extraordinary business needs

I’m a futurist business designer at Bonbo, which means I’m an expert in understanding how to create unique businesses that effectively balance lots of different, often competing, needs. I approach things differently to a consultant or a coach, who often focuses on one need at a time, in isolation, based on the way it’s always been done.

There’s certainly a place for it, but the problem is, businesses don’t exist in a vacuum. A business exists in a context that has many needs. The businesses that ‘have it all’ – what I call extraordinary businesses, have all of these needs deeply embedded in their strategy.

I believe extraordinary businesses have four traits in common, and you can use them as the building blocks of your own extraordinary business:

Happy, excited customer opening order

1. Delight

The spark. The magic. That special something.

The potential: To be the go-to solution.

Think: How you feel when Spotify’s Wrapped drops.

Solving an unmet need that also excites you is the spark that catalyses this wow-factor in business design.

Your customers love you, because they now have a solution. To really push the wow-factor further, if your brand embodies the emotion they seek more of, it helps them to understand, from their very first impression, that you’ve got the solution they’ve been waiting for.

A business that serves a unique role has all the marketplace benefits of a monopoly. You can set your own prices, you can design your ideal lifestyle, and you can work out the kinks before copycats flood the market to meet the challenges you already know how to solve.

When you’re the first mover in an exciting niche, your business can grow as fast as your structure allows. The faster you grow, the more your unique idea is shaping the world. Building in competitive advantage for how you deliver this solution is the rocket fuel that enables you to reach your ambitions faster.

the word PURPOSE painted on a road

2. Alignment

The clarity. The process. The roadmap.

The potential: To take the easy route to your destination.

Think: What Fyre Festival needed to deliver on its promise effortlessly.

Many companies have gaps in their strategies, usually connected to whatever needs their business model does not cater for. Notice what is hard or stressful in your business? There’s guaranteed to be gaps in your strategy that extend from the foundations of your very business concept, right through to your day to day strategies.

Solving one problem at a time will never be enough, because your business model has a wound that will continue to create the next problem. You need to fix it at the source.

The solution is to go back to square one and ensure the business model is designed at the intersection of all of these needs. How can you meet a customer’s need, while living the lifestyle you want? Put all the pieces of your business and life out on the table and see how they could fit together. Your strategies moving forward? They become all about how to make that happen.

If you imagine your business model as a map, and your future vision as a point on the horizon you’re trying to get to, you also need a compass that will orient you in the right direction. Usually, the compass that a business follows meets only one need, revenue. Of course it’s an important need, but if you have ever burnt out, you’ll know it isn’t the only need worth being aligned with.

An aligned business focuses on a bespoke metric that instead measures how effectively it is shaping the future, based on the unique needs it is satisfying. As you’ve tied these needs to money at the core of the business model, what you focus your strategies on will grow your impact and your bank account at the same time.

Social media reactions on laptop and phone

3. Resonating

The most relevant. The cool kid. The people’s choice.

The potential: Viral contagion.

Think: Shut up and take my money.

We’d all love to be the Band-Aid of our category, but even being the only one in your category is not how that happens. A business that resonates is the best strategy for meeting a customer’s needs. Better than competitors, DIY hacks, or even doing nothing at all. A resonating business represents an ultimate solution.

It’s also not just satisfying any unmet need, but one that is disruptive. It represents a replacement to something that wasn’t working. That’s why its name is remembered.

One of the secret killers of a business that might otherwise go viral, is the same thing that leads to poor life balance for the business owner. The business doesn’t have the structure to grow and scale on its own. Whilst scarcity can fuel early desire, you can ultimately only have a cult favourite if people can join the cult.

The other aspect of resonating comes from the intersection of business and brand strategy. The more a business understands its customer, the more they can build an extraordinary brand that sees itself the way their customers do. The result? An effortless cultural fit.

business leads

4. Engaging

The experience. The intuition. The natural fit.

The potential: Persuade without you needing to do anything.

Think: Not speaking about taboos.

Every business has underlying qualities that repel and attract.

The most successful businesses, the ones that sell even high ticket solutions without a person facilitating, let those features inform their business offerings, strategies, and communications. The business is changed in fundamental ways to mitigate or eliminate repellent qualities.

At the same time, competitive advantage and emotionally powerful brand propositions amplify the most attractive qualities until they have magnetic appeal. A business that has this can automate its entire income-generating process. The lifestyle wins for that type of business are obvious.

A business that engages has people wanting to talk about them, and understands exactly how it fits into people’s lives. A lot of that comes from understanding not just the target customer, but specifically, the subset at the moment when that need becomes a priority in their life.

In this way, you can build empathy for your customers’ needs into your offering. A lot like the butterfly effect, engaging each individual customer in this way allows a business to create global movements.

Use these traits as an audit to identify gaps in your own strategy, and make sure that you address these gaps from the foundations of your business concept for best results, and an extraordinary business.

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