Many enter business fully aware of competitors but few realize the benefit they can offer their own business. Personal growth and business prosperity can be directly linked to competitors when viewed from the proper perspective.
Consumers are the obvious winners in a free market economy as companies are allowed to compete for market share, and prices are set based on supply and demand. Supplying an item in excess will cause the price to decline, while less supply usually increases price and demand. Why do you think Louis Vuitton and Rolls Royce can maintain the prices they have regardless of the economy? Quality is only one part of the equation.
Learning from the competition is an advantage to any business in any industry. Doing a little research on their background and studying their habits will net more knowledge than most two year college degrees. Let’s look at Google and Yahoo for an example. Yahoo! dominated the search engine and web presence industry for a long while. But when Google came on the scene, they provided everything that Yahoo! had not noticed was in demand. They also recognized avenues to produce revenue that had been overlooked.
Google took into account not only the lack of relevance of many of Yahoo’s search engine results, but also the speed of getting the results. They also looked at email storage, security while browsing the internet, and the ease of use that users desired as older users and less tech-savvy people began to flock to the internet.
Google decided to sit in the learning chair way before they became the top search engine in the world.
What lessons can a business owner glean from their competitors’ successes and failures? Many. I am not only speaking of how awesome a website looks, or how fast their customer service gets back to clients. In order to remain competitive, businesses must abort shark tactics and unethical behavior. Education is truly a key to open many doors.
Here are a few tactics businesses can use to turn their competitors into educators:
- Study how effectively they reach their target market and the strengths of their approach to meeting customers needs
- Perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis on their product or service
- Stay abreast of press coverage and their community involvement, donations, and charitable causes and overall attitude towards social responsibility
- Set a goal to learn not criticize, being objective and implementing strategy that will yield results
- Read their blogs and social media sites to glean any helpful advice they may offer
- Take a step back from the business mindset long enough to be a consumer and assess room for improvement
- Make a list of why a customer would choose your competitor over you
- What does the competitor supply that the market demands?
- What does the competitor lack that the market demands?
- What processes could your business benefit from?
- Look at price — would adjusting prices cause customers to perceive more value from your company or feel overcharged?
- What type of overhead could be cut out from company expenses?
There are several more considerations that could yield positive changes within your company, if viewed from the proper perspective. Customers will always want to have choices, so there is no need to attempt to monopolize (besides, it is against the law). However, positioning your company to be the top choice will require more than a business loan and loyal employees. Allow the competitive nature within to be wise enough to remain a student always.