Dr. Shannon Reece Interview – How Women Entrepreneurs can Differentiate their Businesses from their Competition

How Women Entrepreneurs can Differentiate their Businesses from their Competition
Dr. Shannon Reece Interviews
Jasbina Ahluwalia


Dr. Shannon Reece’s Specialties: Sport Psychology, Golf Mental Training, Peak Performance Expert, Business Coach, Business Development, Consulting, Women Entrepreneurs,Startups. Dr. Reece has a PhD in Sport Psychology from University of Virginia.

Dr. Shannon Reece asks Jasbina Ahluwalia how women entrepreneurs can differentiate their businesses from their competition and stand tall. Spotlight on Success Episode #21.



Dr. Shannon Reece

(00:26): Hello everyone and welcome to the next episode of Spotlight on Success, where my goal is to bring you strategies and tactics that you can start to implement in your business today to sharpen your competitive edge.

Today, I am so excited to bring you the topic of Standing Tall in Your Industry with special spotlight guest, Jasbina Ahluwalia. Before we get started, let me give Jasbina a proper introduction. Jasbina is an attorney-turned-entrepreneur, relationship expert, radio host and matchmaker/dating coach.

This is going to be a great story. I’m excited! Jasbina was one of the finalists in Oprah’s search for a new TV host and has received worldwide press. She is founder and president of two companies. She founded Intersections Match, the only national matchmaking and dating coaching firm for South Asian singles throughout the country, as well as recently launching MyIMatch.com.

MyIMatch.com is a global online dating community for South Asian singles as well. Jasbina also hosts Intersections Talk Radio, a monthly holistic lifestyle show, featuring conversations with published authors and experts on relationships and health and wellness.

Jasbina previously practiced law in San Francisco and Chicago. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, and her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

Jasbina, welcome to the show.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(2:07): Thank you, Shannon, it’s a pleasure to be here.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(2:10): This is a great topic because, as women, we are always looking for ways to stand out amidst the crowd that we find ourselves in, in any given industry. That’s why I love to talk about individuals’ experiences and how to break out of that crowd, stand alone in your industry and shine brightly. Let’s start with some of your top tips for how women can distinctly differentiate their companies from their competitors.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(2:44): Excellent. The first tip is to discover your niche. This is really important. Ideally, this is an untapped need which you’re uniquely qualified to serve.

The second tip is to identify additional offerings so that you can enlarge your niche client base. The third tip is to establish yourself as a thought leader and an expert in your industry. If I may add a fourth tip, it would be to collaborate with others in your industry.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(3:17): Yes, I love that last one. I think that’s so important. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when women put their heads together.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(3:26): Absolutely. There are synergies everywhere. You just have to be ready to see that opportunity and have the mindset to be able to do that.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(3:37): Indeed. Jasbina, let’s start with that first tip. Can you elaborate a little bit on what steps you would recommend a woman take to really identify what her niche is?


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(3:50): Where are the holes in your industry, or in any given industry? I’m going to use our industry as an example because this is what I intimately know. However, this is widely applicable to any industry you can think of.

Even industries such as the industry that I’m in, matchmaking and dating services, have been around for decades. Interestingly enough, we found that there was no one offering a premium offering for our ethnic niche, which is South Asians and largely Indian-Americans.

In a similar way in our industry, there are different ethnic niches. There are geographical niches in terms of whether someone wants to stick to a particular region, or even a particular city. I know in our industry there are matchmakers who specialize in a particular city and that is their calling card.

Think outside of the box with respect to what that niche could be. It could even be your background. Mine is law, so I’m fine with it. People who are professionally educated tend to gravitate towards me and resonate with me. They feel I can relate to them on a first-time basis with respect to what they’ve gone through.

Many of us came to run businesses from different backgrounds and have transitioned from different industries. I find that as I network with more and more women business owners. Your past in that sense is an asset and it might be a calling card in your new industry or business as well. Those are some ways to distinguish yourself and carve out that niche that you can operate in and you are uniquely qualified to serve.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(5:41): Yes, and I think that last point that you made is the most important in everything that you’ve said. You have demonstrated that in your own career path, which is to leverage those things that are unique to you.

Not only have you leveraged your own ethnicity, but also your professional legal arena persona to bring together the merging of both of those worlds in your business of matchmaking. You are really engaging with people on both of those levels in a very special way, which I’m assuming was not out there and available for those professionals.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(6:19): Exactly. For women, one of our strengths and one of our differences is that we tend to be not as linear thinkers in terms of A, B, C, D. A lot of us take different circular paths and a lot of us come from different backgrounds. Leverage that background, because that is a strength and an asset. Keep that in mind as you establish what your niche is going to be.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(6:43): Exactly. As you said, think outside the box because it doesn’t have to be so cut and dry. You can put your own unique twist on it that makes sense from your expertise, your experiences and your passions. Do your research and find out how you can plug that into a very apparent gap that is out there and needs to be filled. I just love your story. It’s so exciting.

Moving on Jasbina, what steps would you recommend that an entrepreneur take to develop additional products and services that help her expand her client base? I think we’re always looking for that new thing to help us grow the business to the next level.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(7:29): Absolutely. The niche can be very powerful to help you resonate and differentiate yourself. The downside of a niche is almost the definition. It’s a niche, so it’s not going to apply to everyone. For that reason, in a niche business, enlarging your niche client base is very important.

To be able to get the best of both worlds, here are some ways to expand your niche. You need to ask yourself three questions. The first question is, what have you learned through serving your current clients about potential unmet needs?

Let me give you an example. Before launching our online site, our current clients were matchmaking clients and dating coaching clients. Through our process with them, we learned about their past online dating. One thing we learned with our particular niche, we noticed that there seemed to be a hole or gap.

In online dating in our niche, there’s a matrimonial site, which is the term that we use. These sites tend to be more traditional in terms of the online dating sites that have been geared towards our demographic. Our clients tend to be mainstream, sort of a mix of East-West, and very comfortable in the mainstream culture professionally and socially.

The matrimonial traditional sites didn’t really appeal to the mainstream sensibilities and didn’t resonate. That was the beginning of our MyIMatch.com, our online offering. It expanded our client base at a different price point considerably. In any given service industry, there will be gaps, so start with your existing clients. That’s a valuable gold mine to learn what’s missing in your industry.

A second way is to consider different options at different price points. First, go to your clients to figure it out. Second, find out where there are different price points. Obviously, the matchmaking and the online dating sites are very different price points, but it captures all different parts of the market. All the mindshare and intelligence that we gain with our business are applicable to both.

We can serve higher numbers in a different way. Third, are there any related markets you can serve? Again, in any given industry, there will be related markets. In our particular industry, we do dating coaching also. In addition to the matchmaking, where we make introductions, we also learned that we can do stand-alone dating coaching.

There are certain sub-demographics that we can serve by dating coaching, more so than we can by introductions. These ideas, while they keep applying to our industry, are also widely applicable to any other industry out there.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(10:43): I agree. I love that what you did in branching out didn’t take you away from your core direction. You just layered it on and ran parallel lines in the same direction, but listened to your client base. You found out where there were opportunities for you to serve them in another way.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(11:05): Absolutely. You find that it builds upon it. We’re sticking with our core here. We’re not being so diffused that we’re not dead-looting our efforts. We’re able to leverage our efforts for a wider set of people or client base.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(11:31): Yes, by thinking innovatively, which I think is the way to go. When people think about expanding their client base, they think they have to branch out into a completely different arena in order to do that. You are a perfect example of someone who did not do that.

You’re showing us the opportunities that we probably just need to open our eyes to within our current path. Also, showing us opportunities in the direction that we’ve already glazed and it’s a matter of just layering it on.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(11:55): Going deeper and layering it on – I love that analogy! Absolutely.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(12:02): Jasbina, how can an entrepreneur then establish herself? The next thing is establishing ourselves as industry experts. What would you recommend are the steps that women should take to move themselves and their businesses in that direction? We want to continually increase our credibility as we move along.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(12:27): Again, this builds upon and increases your credibility, and helps you better serve your clients. There are three ways that we’ve done this. Again, these are widely applicable to all industries.

One way is blogs and columns. We do relationship columns in print publications throughout the country. Our blogs fly in different online publications throughout the country. On this whole internet space, people are looking for great, valuable content. Be a provider of that content, and that will push you to be at the cutting edge of your industry.

You find a lot of these things build upon each other. The whole idea is that, any effort you make with your business to the extent it can benefit all areas of your business, makes it worthwhile. Another thing is speaking at events. Think outside of the box here.

I’m going to give you an example because I think people wouldn’t automatically think of this. We speak at matchmaker conferences and single events. I happen to know with our niche, that about ten percent of the doctors in this country happen to be South Asian. This is just something I happen to know.

I spoke at an annual convention for physicians of Indian decent. We moderated a relationship dialogue there. This was not the core in terms of what was happening with the programming during that conference, but the host of the conference said it would be interesting for their attendees to participate in it. Another side benefit to that was, even though this was unexpected, at the end of the conference, someone came and tapped me on the shoulder.

It turns out that there was a documentary producer on-site was just there with respect to the conference. He also knew that 10% of the doctors were South Asian, so it was a niche. He wanted to have a little segment on dating and meeting within the South Asian community.

I was there and obviously it was my thought leadership and my expertise, and that’s the shoulder he tapped. The point being is to think outside of the box. It’s something that’s really close to my heart.

Whatever your industry, there will be certain things that others in your industry will be doing. Think outside of that, too. Just like the publications I mentioned in terms of columns and blogs, where’s your target and what do they read? Similarly, what does your niche do when they’re not working? Where are they spending their free time?

Thirdly, this is going to blend in with the collaboration we’re going to talk about later, but a part of being a thought leader is to share valuable content of other experts in your industry as well. Here is one way that we do this. There are some great thoughts and perspectives that are happening all the time in our industry.

I like to be someone who finds that, identifies it and shares it with our sphere of influence. The way we do that is through our radio show. We have published authors and experts come on, and they contribute valuable content to our sphere of influence. In terms of the introductions we make, for someone who’s up to speed with some of those ideas, it helps their success rate of meeting people go up.

Again, it builds on each other. It’s amazing how all of this is synergistic. We give the opportunity to people in the industry to showcase their expertise as well. It’s a win-win all around. Those are three ways that are the views that are widely applicable to all industries.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(16:40): I love that. It’s so important, and I work with my clients on this as well. I get them to think beyond the horse-blinder view of where you can tap and where you can fish for your ideal clients by going out there. This will segue nicely into your collaboration and what you do about your competition. It’s not about looking at them as competition, but looking at them as alternative sources who are providing a different approach to perhaps the same ideal clients.

There is enough business to go around. Look at businesses that your ideal client is already using and how you can create a symbiotic relationship with that industry. Look at how to create these relationships to draw them in and also give value back to them.

This segues nicely into this collaboration piece, which was your fourth point in the beginning. What should we be doing when it comes to competition? What are some of your best ways for us to collaborate, rather than focus on competing?


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(17:56): The first thing is mindset in terms of as you hit upon yourself leading into this. The element of competition is “You win. I lose. I win. You lose.” That mindset is not going to be very helpful. Instead of that, we replace it with the concept of thinking outside of the box and coming up with a situation where we both can potentially win far more than we can both potentially lose.

There are a number of ways. To come full circle, I do believe that operating in a niche makes this more helpful to do. If you are in a niche, you have a unique value to add. You have unique value for your clients. That makes it even easier to collaborate. Not to say that you can’t without doing that, but I find it makes it very easy for us to collaborate. I feel there are synergies all around.

Even with our own industries, people in different industries and people operating any business could be a potential partner. It could be the most challenging for people within their own industry itself, because that’s where the competition tends to be in everyone’s view. There are a couple of ways that we have come up with different collaborative relationships.

I mentioned the radio show, which is obviously where we can add value. In terms of developing relationships, it’s always helpful to add value to others. Not value just to your clients, but when you add value to your collaborative partners in your same industry, it really helps build those relationships to the next level.

Our next level that we do is that sometimes our clients are getting introduced to clients of other matchmakers. You need to have a trusting relationship for that to happen, so building the relationship is important. Once you do, you can do things like that and see how that is helping your clients.

We’re expanding our clients’ universe exponentially by being able to work with other matchmakers in the country. We operate a nationwide service, so we know other matchmakers throughout the country. It’s pretty amazing as a value-add for our clients.

Again, I keep going back to building relationships. One way to do this is networking. That word is thrown around all the time. Some of those people think that what exists out there is those other options. In any given industry, there are going to be a number of networking events and I certainly recommend that people look at what they are.

Talk with others in your industry and figure out what those networking events are. That is where you will meet the people you will be building these collaborations with. Don’t limit yourself to that. Perhaps any given year, whether it’s accessibility for you or attractiveness, or maybe networking events geographically are not desirable for you.

For whatever reason, if they are not desirable for you, think outside the box. Consider calling up someone else in the industry. Why not create your own networking event? There’s an annual matchmakers conference that happens and it wasn’t on the schedule this year. I got a call from another matchmaker saying, “Hey, it doesn’t look like it’s on the schedule. Why don’t we create something?”

She tapped other industry leaders and a couple of us are having a cruise in May for different matchmakers and dating coaches in the industry. Can you imagine the mindset that’s going to happen there? The ideas are going to benefit our clients considerably, and it will cause referrals and cross-synergies. It’s exciting.

Again, the idea is to think outside of the box. The options are unlimited. Don’t limit yourself to even what exists. We’re entrepreneurs. We’re used to carving out our own destinies, finding options, seizing them, creating them, and do that with respect to networking as well. Don’t limit yourself.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(22:35): I love what you’re doing. How much fun, first of all, to go on a cruise? Just to be able to draw together a group of people who are willing to step up and share some of their best ideas. Not only to inspire others, but think beyond that in that collaborative environment.

You’re not going there just to give. You’re obviously going to get back in return probably a hundred-fold just from hearing different perspectives. You can’t possibly envision them all yourself. It’s being around like-minded individuals who are not afraid to come together and share great information with the expectation that, by doing so, it’s going to raise everyone up. That’s what’s exciting.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(23:22): Absolutely. It’s always win-win.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(23:32): Jasbina, you have given us a wealth of very tangible tips that we can apply to our businesses no matter what industry we are in. I thank you so much for bringing all of this today, especially with the examples.

I think when people give examples, it makes it so much more tangible for us to wrap our brains around, “Yes, I can do something like that in my business.” It’s very helpful. For people who are watching who want to get more information about what you do and possibly to connect with you colleague-to-colleague, where should they go?


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(24:08): The best way is contact us directly from our website at www.intersectionsmatch.com. You can go to the Contact Us page to find my phone number and email address. I’d be happy to hear from anyone.

Again, these are all examples from our industry. I find that from one industry to the other, there’s so much transferability that I think mindshare within the intra-industry is very helpful, too.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(24:44): I agree. For any South Asians who are watching and need a matchmaker, she’s right here! Your prayers have been answered. It’s hard to get out there.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(24:59): I will say that many of our clients are open to meeting non-South Asians, too. So for anyone who’s watching, whether you are single or know someone who is, you can contact us. Absolutely.


Dr. Shannon Reece

(25:09): Excellent. I’m glad you clarified that. That’s wonderful. Jasbina, thank you so much. I’m going to have all of your information below on my blog page for people to connect with you on social media links as well.

Thank you to all of our viewers for watching. We hope that you will stay tuned for our next episode of Spotlight on Success, where we will continue to bring you wonderful tips and strategies that you can implement in your business today. Until then, I challenge you to shine brightly.


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