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updated 2/28/2013 8:48:59 AM ET 2013-02-28T13:48:59

The road to profits is paved with unfair advantages.

Think about that statement. It's the reason why some of the best ideas can flop, and why some of the most average people can be wildly successful. Somewhere along the way there was a competitive advantage.

But it's also one way to pull ahead of your competition -- find and create unfair advantages. Here are four ways you can leave your competitors in the dust.

1. Position strengths to weaknesses.
Even if your competitor has a better product and is willing to sell it at a lower price, you can still win. Every competing company has weak points -- places where your brand can outperform. Things like domestic customer service or extended guarantees on a product can go a long way if done right.

Your job is to find these points and exploit them in your marketing and presentations. Let your prospective customers know why these selling points are important and why it makes your brand a better choice.

Related: Richard Branson on Beating the Competition

2. Stay lean.
This is about maximizing value and minimizing waste. Value refers to features a customer wants to pay for while waste essentially is everything else.

This means you must be in constant contact with your clients and understand why they're buying your product. Ask them how you can enhance it. Any additional features your product offers -- no matter how attractive -- should be dropped if your clients don't want them.

3. Go after large clients.
Larger clients can often result in more business and increased revenues, which means more resources for marketing and hiring new employees. But large clients can also be easier to service than smaller companies. It's a strange phenomenon, but smaller companies sometimes need more hand holding and have more service issues than middle-market companies with established systems.

Additionally, larger clients can give your company credibility when meeting with other potential prospects.

But don't worry if the idea of approaching a larger company scares you. Your smaller size should be an advantage since it allows you to move faster and continually think outside of the box. Also position the idea that a change in vendor will inject a sense of freshness into the project its working on.

Related: Divide and Conquer: What War Can Teach You About Business

4. Know your numbers.
I'm surprised how many entrepreneurs don't know the critical numbers that can either make or break their business. Here are a few of the basics that every startup should be tracking:

  • ACV (Average Customer Value). This refers to how much money the average customer spends with you over a given period of time. 
  • CPA (cost per acquisition). This is your cost every time you acquire a new client.
  • ROI (return on investment) on marketing campaigns.
  • Break even. This is the volume of sales you need to cover the cost of making sales.

Every company will have different numbers, but identify them for your business and then commit yourself to tracking and improving them.

Just like football, business is a game of inches where the smallest advancement or advantage can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Related: Finding Your Marketing Competitive Advantage

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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