Entrepreneurs starting a small business for the first time, especially during COVID-19, know they have several items to check off their to-do list. There’s a business plan to draft, trademarks that need to be registered, and picking out a business structure to incorporate as.

Before focusing on each of these items, however, it’s critical that entrepreneurs create a unique selling proposition for their startup. What is a unique selling proposition (USP) and how can your business benefit from it? Let’s take a look!

What’s a USP?

A unique selling proposition is a startup’s differentiator. This is, essentially, what your business has that no other competitor can offer customers.

How do you identify a USP, or even know what kind of differentiator your startup has? This is typically done by following a series of development tips, which you’ll find below.

How to Develop a Unique Selling Proposition

If you’re just beginning to establish a USP for your startup, here are some helpful guidelines for identifying your unique selling proposition.

1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes — and walk a mile in them.

Take a moment to think like your customer base. Consider their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Then, ask yourself why they would purchase the offerings or services provided by your company.

What can your startup offer that meets the needs of a customer? The possibilities that surround this type of offering are nearly endless in scope. You may have an offering that provides fast service or sell products that are significantly cheaper than those of competing brands. The USP of your startup may be one of these possibilities, or it could be another that is completely different. Choose the one that fits with the manner in which you’d like your startup to be perceived in your market.

2. Identify your strengths.

What can your startup do that no one else can?

  • Do you offer outstanding customer service?
  • Are your team members fully invested in their roles within the company and love what they do?
  • Is your business friendly and all about creating incredible experiences for customers?

These are all considered to be strengths for startups. If you don’t know what your strengths are, take a moment to figure out what you are the best at. You may seek out feedback from family, friends, mentors, and even customers about what they believe you, and your startup, excel at. Once you have a shortlist of strengths, use these as selling points for your startup.

3. Figure out how you can solve problems and meet needs.

Startups usually get their start because there’s a need in the marketplace for what they have to offer. They see a problem that a customer has and work to solve it. If there’s a similar company in the same market, this startup will find a way to deliver solutions in a manner that is better, faster, and/or cheaper than its competition.

Ask what your startup can do to solve the problems customers have now. Then, take the USP one step further. How can your startup continue to meet the needs of customers and anticipate what they need into the future?

Final pro tip: know your competition.

Creating a USP means thoroughly studying up on your competitors. However, it’s not over once you know their initial strengths and weaknesses.

Studying the competition is a practice your startup must commit to over time. Much like your own startup, their offerings and services will likely evolve to meet customer needs as time progresses. Keep an eye out for their next move and see how you can use your USP to do it better and grow and thrive as a startup.