You Don’t Have to Be the Best, Just Better

I am going to toot my horn for a moment. I have over 15 years of experience in online marketing. I started Amprewave Media and made it successful during the dot-com recession. I have worked with very well-known businesses on some really cool projects. I managed a $55 million project for Microsoft, consulted for one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, and helped countless small businesses be successful online. Sufficed to say, I know my stuff and I love what I do. But am I the best?

Absolutely not. I know a lot of extremely talented people who have done some truly amazing things and accomplished far more than me. What makes me successful is not that I am the best, just better than most.

Your small business does not need to be the absolute best either, just better than your competitors. Apple created an amazing mobile phone. The iPhone is beautiful and easy to use. Is it the best? Not really. There are plenty of issues with the iPhone. One of the reasons Apple is so successful is not that it created the best possible mobile phone, but that it created a better mobile phone than its competitors.

There is a controversial idea in business that suggests good enough is good enough. Conventional wisdom in our society suggests that good enough is actually not enough. We try to make our products and services the absolute best. We hear stories about how Steve Jobs wanted a glass screen that did not scratch and say, “See, he wanted the best!” In reality, he wanted better. He wanted a screen that was better than the typical mobile phone.

When the iPhone was released, it lacked a lot of basic features. The original iPhone had a certain number of apps, and that was it. You could not add more.¬¨‚ĆSteve Jobs didn’t wait for the App Store. He didn’t wait until the software would allow the apps to be adjusted on the screen, had notifications or countless other features the iPhone lacked. He went with a product that was not the best, but was better.

Online marketers like to say your small business should be remarkable, and I agree. Your business should be remarkable, but not at the cost of trying to achieve perfection. Achieving best, which is tantamount to trying to achieve perfection; it is a losing battle. Focus on being better, even much better, than you competitors.

This is usually not difficult. Most businesses are mediocre and have a lot of institutional barriers that prevent them from being able to improve their products and services. Sticking with the iPhone example, most mobile phone manufactures failed to see how a clean design and easy to use interface could make a mobile phone better. This is great for your small business because you can continue to improve your product or service making it better.

As a small business owner, I would rather focus on serving my clients than on wasting time, effort and money trying to be the best. All I need is to be better than my competitors, something not that difficult to achieve. Good enough is often good enough. Start with a product or service that is better than your competitor’s and then work on improving it. You’ll find great success in being better than in being the best.