Growing richer than everybody else means building a business that is not just okay, average or even mildly successful. It means building a business that is wildly successful. Doing that means going a bit beyond the ordinary. Here are ways you can beat the crowd to do that.
Start by setting your own standards
The first step forward is to quit setting your standards—that is, your objectives, actions and points of measurement—based on what everybody else is doing. Ask yourself this: Is everybody else as successful as you want to be? Is everybody else achieving unstoppable, snowballing success with their business? No, obviously not.
The group has power. It has buying power, it has trend-setting power and it has business-building power. But the group is not where you go for your inspiration. The group is good at catching on after the ball has started rolling. It's up to you to figure out which ball you're going to roll and then push it up the hill.
If you want to be more successful, have more authority and make more money than everybody else around. And you can't do that by doing what everybody else is doing.
Do the opposite of everybody else
Just for the sake of getting your business noticed, doing the opposite can be a powerful strategy. But there's more to it. By the time everybody has jumped onto the latest bandwagon, it's a pretty crowded, dumpy place. It may still be rolling along, but the more crowded it gets, the slower it goes.
Instead, take a step back and a look around. Figure out what people aren't doing. Figure out what need isn't being met. Figure out what wagon is empty, but is still heading in the right direction, and grab the reins on that one.
If you want to be more successful, you must be the leader of the crowd—not a member of it.
Do things better than everybody else
A wise man put it this way: "Do you know a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men." In other words, build the better mousetrap…and you know the rest.
If your business is already established, or you're in a competitive market, or you just can't think of a way to do things opposite of the crowd, then do things better. Do customer service better. Do design better. Do better testing. Do a better job in quality, price, accessibility, feedback, guarantee and follow-up.
Don't strive for good enough, or slightly better than the competitors. Build a business that has a reputation for excellence, and you will build a business that can last.
Average is the enemy. If you want to be more successful, be the one who sets the bar high. Then make sure you reach the bar every single time.
Take it further than everybody else
People who get noticed, and remembered, are people who take things further than they've been taken before. This isn't always a good thing (we won't go into stage antics and reality TV shows here, but you get the point); taking things too far can be terrible, but it will get you noticed.
But what if you take things too far in the right direction? If you're an athlete, you break through old records and establish new ones. You end up in the Hall of Fame. If you're an artist, you break through old barriers and establish new schools of thought and expression. Good things, big things can happen when you take it further (whatever it is) than everybody else.
And if you want to be successful, you've got to push the boundaries. You've got to take your business further than the status quo. You've got to push yourself further. You don't get dramatically successful or fabulously wealthy by being average.
Do the unexpected, the new, the different
Products that provide a combination of desirability plus difference have the potential for huge success. Consider Apple, which among other things decided that technology could be pretty and useful. You desire the function of the technology; there's nothing unexpected about having a smart phone that can text and take calls and harvest your e-mails for you. But there is something unexpected about a functional, technological device that is also beautiful to hold, to watch and to use.
The concept is to take something normal, something known, and then spin it. Do something unexpected with it. Do something different with it. Do something new with whatever you have that's old, and you might find a surprising hit.
If you want to be successful, do something different.
Dominate the field
The secret of being more successful than everybody else is not quitting when everybody else does. That's how you go from mildly successful to wildly successful, and that's how you dominate your field no matter what it is.
You get a great product that is something different, or you find a new method that is better, or you take an idea further, or you come up with a business plan that is the opposite of the mass movement, and you start making waves.
The key is to keep making those waves. A little wave will disappear in the ocean of noise and business and stuff that is our daily life. But you keep making those same kind of waves, and you start something big.
People notice, and keep noticing, and you establish your business not just as a one-off success, but as a powerhouse of original, new, different, trend-setting, value-providing business moves, one right after the other.
Dominate by putting out one idea after another, after another, after another. Dominate by never quitting. Dominate by trying and failing and trying again.
If you want to be successful, dominate yourself first. No self-doubt, no delusions, no indecision, no hesitation. Then take your idea, make it better, take it further, build it higher, and show everybody else how it's done.
Annie Mueller is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. She covers small business topics with a focus on lean, zero budget startups, business blogging and simple (sane) ways business can use social media without selling their souls to Facebook. Her work can be seen online at Investopedia's Financial Edge blog, Young Entrepreneur, Wise Bread, Organic Authority, Modern Mom and her own site, AnnieMueller.com. Find her on Twitter, @AnnieMueller.
A version of this article was originally published on October 21, 2011.