We have a friend (no, really…we do!) who is always looking for that “one, great idea.” You know – the idea that will bring him fame and fortune instantly.

He’s been searching for years with no success. The reason? He’s barking up the wrong tree. He needs to grow up – at least in the way that he thinks.

Success in business has little to do with the idea. It’s much more about stepping up to the plate. More specifically, it’s about getting it done – executing on the fundamentals and delivering what your customers truly value.

There are three simple ways to do it. The good news is: by doing them, you will “up” your competitive advantage – because most of your competitors won’t. 

Show up

It sounds so simple. And admittedly, it is. But it ain’t easy.

Show up. Today. Okay, that’s not so hard. But tomorrow is a little harder. And the day after that is harder yet.

Every single day, you have to wake up and smell the coffee. Pick up the slack. Get down to it.

Work! Yes, a lot of people talking about doing the work you love. That’s great.

But, there will still be days when you just don’t feel like doing it – the most pressing things, the important ones.

And you must. You must push yourself. You must be present. You must show up.

Follow up

Yes, another one that sounds so simple. So, why do so many people fail to do it?

Put up or shut up. If you’re not going to follow up, don’t say that you will. Otherwise, you will find yourself up a creek without a paddle.

The fastest way to disappoint a customer is to fail to follow up. What’s the best way to ensure follow up? Develop a habit of recording your promises.

We have a friend (hey, we’re up to two!) who has mastered this. He’s in sales. He is a master tickle-filer. He never fails to follow up when he says that he will.

It gave us an idea that we have used for years to screen potential vendors. We ask sales people to get back in touch at a certain time (e.g., “Give us a call in two weeks”). They say, “Sure!”

We record when we agreed to the follow up. Then, we see if they do it. Almost none do! If someone won’t follow up when they’re trying to get your money, what can you expect once they have?

So, by all means, say what you’ll do. Then do it! Follow up as promised.

One up

Here’s where it gets fun, but not without some frustration. So, keep your chin up!

You always strive to exceed the expectations of your customers, right? But have you ever thought about this…

You can’t exceed expectations if you do the same thing today that you did yesterday! You will only meet your customer’s expectations.

So, you have to up the ante. The best way that we know to do this is incrementally – think “one up.” It happens in two ways:

  • Quantitatively: Do one more thing today than you did yesterday
  • Qualitatively: Do one thing one percent better today than you did it yesterday

The key is to push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone. As you push just beyond that point, you grow. Growth is where we all find meaning.

Success is not the result of an epiphany. It is the result of the cumulative advantage gained from executing daily. Use these three simple ways to up your competitive advantage.

How do you step up?