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Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, which includes home-service companies including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

It's the million-dollar question. How do you set your business apart from the competition? In any industry, you're up against hundreds or thousands of companies battling to be number one. When everyone wants to be the next Uber or Facebook, it takes more focus than ever to rise above the noise.

That was one of the biggest challenges when I started 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Junk removal is a fragmented industry with no standard for professionalism. (At least, it was then). As a 19-year-old college dropout, what could I offer that everyone else in the game wasn't already doing?

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The answer turned out to be simple: I identified what the industry lacked and made that my value proposition. That decision turned into a major industry disruption. Here's how to define your value proposition, and why it will transform your forecast for success.

Ask what's missing

Your value proposition is essentially the "why" that drives your customers to choose you over the competition. It's your core differentiator that makes you stand out and will ultimately spur your success.

To figure out what will set you apart, look at your industry and identify what's missing. Uber saw an opportunity to bring on-demand service to the taxi industry. Away saw a gap in the luggage industry; no one had ever created a suitcase that met the mark for form and function. In the case of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, junk removal lacked professional, streamlined service with a focus on customer experience.

Finding an edge is easier said than done, especially in oversaturated markets. But if you can find a way to do it differently (and better) than anyone else, you're on the right track.

Always be branding

Once you've defined your value prop, you need to share it with potential customers. With the internet and social media, it's easier than ever to get your message out. But it's a double-edged sword; you have access to dozens of channels to amplify your brand, but so do your competitors. The trick is to get in front of the right people at the right time and to be more memorable than anyone else.

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Your value prop should be something identifiably unique to your company. The iPhone dominates because of its paradoxically simple approach to one of the most complicated devices we use. Zappos is known more for its customer service promise than it is for online retail. These companies have branded themselves based on more than the product or service they offer – they've built their value proposition into the fabric of their brand.

Always follow through

When we started WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, we promised to complete any painting job in one day. This seemingly impossible promise brought in plenty of business – but then we realized it actually was impossible, in some cases.

Most of the time, our one-day strategy works. We match our crew size to the job so there are always enough painters to deliver on the promise. But sometimes, for reasons outside our control like weather or home size, it's simply not realistic; it would be impossible to paint the entire White House in a single day!

When it comes to value props, it's not enough to say "we do x ,y, z." That's only half of the equation: in a world where every company promises on-demand, round-the-clock service, you need to prove your worth by offering tangible results. It's about finding balance and exceeding expectations, every single time.

Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.

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