Vail Daily column: Knowing your niche — and expertise
August 27, 2013
The other day I came across an email from a well-heralded businessman in the valley, known most prominently for owning and operating several successful businesses in the valley. Let's call him Dr. Paul. He is an incredible role model and an expert in his field, but rather than just listing out all the professional aspects of Dr. Paul, let's first take a look into the DNA of a business. There are numerous challenges and decisions that businesses, both new and established, face on a daily basis. Whether it is identifying your target market, staying ahead of the competition, continuously analyzing your company's strengths and weaknesses, improving customer service, or managing proper employee training all the while attempting to cut costs without sacrificing quality and service for the sake of the brand, this string of business DNA has more working parts than a three-ring circus.
First, I have to just say that challenges should be welcomed and embraced, not feared. As an entrepreneur you should look forward to what the challenge will be that day, then set out to conquer it. Second and more importantly, make sure you don't go too far outside your mission, outside your company's DNA too soon just to introduce new products or services just to grow your market share and increase sales. In the example of the famous Dr. Paul, his latest email showcased his current menu, his brand new concoction and vision of the products and services to come. His latest master vision of a brand new lunch service showed in his email, with colorful, exciting pictures and his latest ads.
I wanted to showcase Dr. Paul because not just because he is one of the most passionate and successful people in his field but because he excels at marketing and selling his brand, all without sacrifice of the DNA of his business. He is great example of a leader and participant in his community, personalizing and executing events perfectly in his field. Dr. Paul never does anything half-heartedly, and nor should anyone else that wants to be successful.
In business, a customer can see right through imposters, we are trained to see the unfit and unprepared. Lose the trust of an employee, and your customers will follow and you may never get the trust back. Show your customers you are prepared, professional and engaging, and you will have a customer for life.
As president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, a mistake I see small business owners constantly making is when they chase their interest under the guise of saving money on experts. Two challenges come out of this. First, you can chase an interest so long that it makes your need for the expertise obsolete. And you may make a compromise on quality based on lack of knowledge or expertise in the area.
More of a lesson learned and the bottom line is not to step too far too soon outside what you do and know, just to drive sales and reach a goal. A business must look inside itself, perfect what it does and what it is known for, master it and become experts. Stay true to your roots and your expertise and the product that you know best. Knowing when you need to hire experts and when you can get by is key. Know your strengths, and know when you need help. Remember that buying or not buying expertise to fill the gaps in your strengths is a risk decision. There will be risk no matter your choice. Keep true to your DNA as a business, and build your brand from the inside out.
Lourdes Ferzacca, owner of La Tour Restaurant in Vail Village, is president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association.