Competitive Advantages come in all Shapes and Sizes

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Business schools and books will all talk about the need for your business to have a competitive advantage-- something to give your enterprise an edge in the marketplace.

However, their examples are usually based things that are easily counted such as price, speed or quality. There are advantages that go far beyond the "norms" of the "competitive advantage."

What about taking something that is perceived as a disadvantage and turning it around into a competitive advantage?

What about Autism as a competitive advantage, for example?

Check out this video of a Dad with an Autistic son who created a business model that doesn't just allow for, but brings out the strengths of people on the Autistic scale.

People on the Autistic scale have remarkable strengths, but they are different strengths than the majority of the population and usually different strengths than the owners of businesses.

This means that business owners who want to have a competitive advantage that involves their team often need to rethink their business model. Most business owners by default look for employees who are like them. This is a fatal flaw because if they are truly like you, then they will steal your business and become your competition.

What you are looking for is people who aren't like you. People who will bring their own unique sets of skills and strengths. The problem is that your business isn't ready for anyone that isn't like you. If you could clone yourself, then everything would be fine... right?

 In reality, that would bring its own set of problems.

The problem is that your business isn't setup to handle the right employees, There are people out there who could be awesome doing what you need done, but you're still looking for a clone of you.

Step back and take another look at your business. What do you really need? If you say some variation of  "I'm looking for hard workers who are committed to their job, don't have a lot of drama, and have the skill set of  ......", then you are going to be fighting all other job opportunities available due to the commonality of that answer. You can fight to attract this limited pool of people wooing them with higher salaries, but they are so employable that anyone else who can offer more receives them. You then end up complaining that you just "can't find any good people."

What if you looked outside of that box? What if you designed your business in ways that you can not only accommodate, but thrive with people who don't fit that narrow box of perceived "perfect employee" material?

That could be as the father above did in designing the business so that people on that autism spectrum can thrive. Or how about the group of mothers with kids in school? They are a unique group with their own specific strengths and weaknesses.

They have a different set of priorities where their work comes second to their kids.

They often have a great skill set that may be academically out-of-date but is enhanced by raising children. They have great attitudes because nothing you can throw at them is as difficult as keeping up with everything they encounter on a daily basis. They need a uniquely flexible environment that allows them to drop work and be with their kids who can't go to school that day because of a fever.

I have a client who built her business around not their client's needs, but around the needs of her employees; 90% of whom were mothers of young children who wanted to work while raising her family. The workday began at 9:00 and ended at 3:00. Many did not work 5 days a week, but instead worked a self-selected number of days per week. She had a long list of these women, and when one had kids with a fever she had a list from which to call to get another one in their place for the day.

The systems were such that each day had its own projects and they didn't carry overnight. She designed the business around the needs of her employees and her employees repaid her by doing an amazing job of taking care of the clients.

What about college kids with their own set of strengths and weaknesses? Can you provide an environment where their uniqueness could be brought out, allowing them to shine?

What about recent parolees from prison? Kind of scary at first thought, but could be amazing.


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