Warren Buffett famously invests in businesses that have what he calls a protective ‘moat’ around them – one that inoculates them from competition and allows them to control their pricing.

Big companies lock out their competitors by out-slugging them in capital infrastructure investments, but small businesses have to be smarter about how they defend their patch. Here are four ways to deepen and widen the protective moat around your business:

Create an army of defenders

Ecstatic customers act as defenders against other competitors entering your market, a factor that has enabled many businesses to defend their market share in their market.

Get certified

Is there a certification program that you could take to differentiate your business? For example, a RTO (Registered Training Organisation). It was a lot of paperwork and training, but the certification process acts as a barrier against other people jumping into the market and competing in the same way.

Get your customers to integrate

Is there a way you can get your customers to integrate your product or service into their operations? Can you offer your customers training in how to use what you sell to make your company stickier?

For example, like how you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Once the CRM of choice is creating a weekly sales funnel in a CRM platform, it harder to convince you to move to another. That’s what you want your product or service to achieve.

Become a verb

Think back to the last time you looked for a recipe. You probably ‘googled’ it. Part of Google’s competitive shield is that the company name has become a verb. Now every time someone refers to searching for something online, it reinforces the competitive position of a single company.

Is there a way you could control the vocabulary people use to refer to your category or specialty?

Widening your protective moat triggers a virtuous cycle: differentiation leads to having control over your pricing, which allows for healthier margins, which in turn lead to greater profitability and the cash to further differentiate your offering.

Which makes it even more Saleable when the time comes…

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