So you have an idea for a nifty product or service. You do some initial research and find that there are plenty of other folks out there selling the same thing.Should you walk away? Not hardly. Healthy competition is often a sign of a vibrant market. In fact, discovering a market segment that has NO competition can be a strong warning sign that you're overlooking something. So you've decided to move forward. At this stage, many business builders become enamored with the thing they are developing. Everyone will love this widget. It does X & Y, and that is just so cool. Maybe so. But how is your idea/product/service business different from those other folks out there offering the same or similar things? What will make you and your product stand apart? In the process of building and refining marketing and business plans, I like to get folks thinking about differentiation as soon as possible. I find that it is tied directly to a company's mission and vision, and thus reflective of the core values that will define the company. If a company has clarity around mission, and vision, and has a clear understanding of their differentiation – or their unique selling proposition – I find that the rest of the business building process moves much more quickly, and with greater success. Is differentiation exclusively the domain of the product or service you're developing? Not at all. Many companies stake their claim on service (Zappos), or editorial (Groupon), or some other aspect of their business. What sets you and your business apart? Why will someone choose you?