‘’What is your claim to fame?” she asked as I passed her by during a break at the National Speakers Association (NSA) Conference. At that split moment two thoughts collided in my head: the first was that the person asking the question was Patricia Fripp, renowned national speaker and first female president for the NSA and the second, that I actually didn’t know the answer. I stood there for (what seemed like) a few minutes, and eventually stumbled on a response: “I’m not sure so I'll think on that and get back to you.''
The question she asked me goes well beyond the concept of owning a business. If the question had been “What do you do for a living?” I could have responded immediately. If the question had been “What is your competitive positioning?” or “What is your target market?” I could have answered immediately with some variance to similar answers I’ve provided many times in the past. Truth is, the question posed is really, why someone should be talking to you. What makes you so special?
I had to dig deep and ask key questions to reveal the answer to this riddle.
Whether you are pitching your product to a prospective partner or attempting to attract investors to fund your business, at some point someone will ask “Why should we invest in you?” or “What can you claim that makes you a ‘sure thing’?”
To get to your answer, follow this five-step analysis that I used to gain insight to answer the question for myself and clarify my “claim to fame”. They are as follows:
1. Is what you offer truly innovative?
There are disrupters and mavericks that bring innovation to the forefront every day. Compare your idea against some notable innovators to get a feel for how it rates. Barre3 founded an innovative health program combining ballet, yoga and Pilates into a total body workout. Xfire manufactures bike lane safety lights that let you create your own bike lanes at night. Both are examples of innovators.
2. Have you developed positive interest from popular media?
Small businesses and entrepreneurs have become well-known following an initial appearance in popular media, including traditional television, print media, Internet channels and social media. Take Aaron Krause, inventor of the Scrub Daddy, as an example. He received significant positive interest after his product was showcased on Shark Tank.
3. Is your business a leader in a market or niche?
Companies that are trailblazing in a specific market segment or defining that market can easily define their claim to fame. FranNet, a respected franchise-consulting group that matches individuals with the right franchise opportunities, is consistently identified as a leader in the category of franchise advisory.
Related: 5 Steps to Become a Market Leader
4. Have you raised significant funds?
Entrepreneurs who have succeeded on crowdfunding platforms benefit from both the infusion of initial capital and the social network exposure. Entrepreneur Ryan Grepper raised more than $ 3 million on Kickstarter for the Coolest cooler, a cooler that blends drinks, plays music and adds fun to any outdoor occasion. He now works as an advisor to other businesses on how to raise money through crowdfunding channels.
5. Is your background unique?
Think about your family’s background, heritage or a unique history that you can claim as a pedigree. Eaton Construction from Portland, OR, boasts quality craftsmanship built on a family tradition of 400 years in the industry, starting with the arrival of Francis Eaton, a ‘House Carpenter’ as described in the ships rolls of the Mayflower, to Plymouth Colony in 1620. He is noted as the "first carpenter of the New World."
As I took myself through these questions I finally realized my claim to fame. Whenever anyone now asks me the question “What is your claim to fame?’ I respond with immediately: “I am a fifth-generation entrepreneur and help small business thrive beyond what they imagine can be possible.”