Almost every market is incredibly crowded and small business owners should be on the lookout for anything to help their businesses stand out from the competition. To effectively differentiate their businesses and ultimately grow sales, merchants should take these steps:

1.) Understand your Brand: If your message is muddled, customers will have a hard time connecting with your company. Spend some time thinking about what your brand does best and ask others for their input as well. Once you know your brand inside and out, you'll be able to target your messaging to reach your specific audiences.

2.) Celebrate Uniqueness: Your small business is one-of-a-kind, so let people know. Your individuality is what sets you apart from your competition and will be the reason customers remember you.

3.) Partner with Complimentary Brands: Teaming up with fellow small business owners is an excellent strategy to expand your customer base while fulfilling the needs of your current patrons. Give some thought about what services would complement your own while providing value to your customers.

This post was adapted from a Financial Post article, which features several tips for small business owners to differentiate their companies from the competition. Competition is fierce out there and we proudly share these tips with you, our small business readers, as a part of our ongoing effort to provide as many resources as possible to help you succeed.