Developing the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your small retail business is one of the most important steps you can take in business. A good USP will frame every decision you make. It will also define why you are in business for it goes to the heart of your passion.

Yes, a USP must reflect passion for this is what drives your love of your business … and you do love your small retail business don’t you!  This is where small retailers are different to big retailers. Where they get lost in KPIs, share price and other metrics, small business retailers think in personal terms, often with emotion.

So how do you create your USP?  Here are some tips we have found useful when working with retailers on this…

  1. Take your time. You will be done when you are done. Getting your USP right is more important than meeting a deadline.
  2. Think. Try and get time away from the business to think about your USP. A good location we have found works is siting on a seat across from the entrance to your retail business.
  3. Love. Work out what you love about your business and / or what you want to love about your business.
  4. Differentiate. Think about what’s special in your area or marketplace about your business.
  5. What do you stand for? If someone says who are you? you will probably answer with the facts. If they say, no, I want more, what makes you special? you will probably, hopefully, take them inside what makes you tick. So, you need to know, what does your business stand for?
  6. Define. Try and put into words your passion and what is special about your business.  Brainstorm ideas in ten words or less. Get as many down on paper as you can.
  7. Would you be missed? It is said that people often define their view of themselves by wondering if they would be missed. Think about your small retail business in this way. Would you be missed? If so, how and why?

It might take a few goes, working through these ideas. The result should be something close to a USP for your business.

Your USP needs to be succinct, passionate and unique, something that explains why your business is different and why people should shop with you.

If you think you are close, test it with your employees and family. Test it with yourself too by asking what you would change in the business with this USP in place, what decisions would be different?

A good USP will guide business decisions and provide a framework through which you navigate change in the business. But most important of all, it defines why you are in business.