I was sitting with one of my trusted network centers of influence on Friday discussing opportunities and business and she asked me what should have been a simple question to try to identify any connections she could make for me:

“What is your unique value proposition?  What is it that you do that makes you stand apart from everyone else?”

I went in to a 5 minute diatribe about people, process, structure, and start-ups and finally she stopped me.  See, the problem is that I never really identified anything that I do that sets me apart.  I forget sometimes that at the senior level, anyone that a start-up brings in can handle the people, process, and structure part (or they wouldn’t be considered senior).  What she wanted to know was what I did differently that would help a start-up succeed so that they wouldn’t have to call her in (she is a turnaround expert) in six months.

In addition to simply identifying my Unique Value Proposition (UVP) she wanted it in a one or two line description.  Less than an elevator pitch, but slightly more than a headline.  Think about your own business or career… can you describe what you do and what sets you apart in a couple of lines in such a way as to keep someone’s interest?

I spent the weekend thinking about it and finally came up with the following:

“I am the TRANSLATOR that a visionary entrepreneur needs to translate between business leaders and technology experts, from market opportunities to product and services roadmaps, and between the visionary themselves and the dynamos (team members) that are needed to execute for success.”

The key to my value is that I not only speak many different languages, but that I can translate between them to make sure that the vision of the entrepreneur isn’t lost when it is communicated to investors and business professionals or potential clients or when it is delivered to the technical team that needs to create and implement that vision.

Many times, the visionary entrepreneur describes what they are thinking to the technical team who interprets the vision through their own language and experiences and unfortunately the two languages don’t quite line up.  Six months later they are on the phone with my friend to get her to come in and ‘fix’ the project and get things delivered.  If they had just involved a translator at the beginning of the process the product or service offering would match the vision and the entrepreneur and the team could just get on with building growth.

If I extend my UVP out to a full elevator pitch, here’s the unique value that I bring to a start-up:

“I am the TRANSLATOR that a visionary entrepreneur needs to translate between business leaders and technology experts, from market opportunities to product and services roadmaps, and between the visionary themselves and the dynamos (team members) that are needed to execute for success.  Not only do I put the right people in the right roles and put in place appropriate structures and processes, my ability to translate means that everyone understands the realities and goals regardless of the ‘language’ they speak.

I surround myself with experts who compensate for my weaknesses.  It is my job and my strength to translate between the visionary entrepreneur and the people who execute the plan to ensure that everyone is pointed in the same direction and toward a common goal.”

Think about your own business and career.  What is your Unique Value Proposition?  Take the time to write it down and commit to it and I think that you’ll find it much easier to communicate it the next time that someone asks you at a networking event or meeting “What is that you do?”.

Feel free to share our UVP or comment on mine in the comments.  I’d love to hear about what you do and why that makes you stand out from your competition!

About Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.

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