What to Do About the Competition
By Mark Evans
When you’re a startup, it’s tempting to think that no one will ever have a similar business idea to yours.
In truth, most businesses have competitors, direct or indirect. Spotting another company that offers similar products or services should not deter you from starting up or expanding. But it does require some careful moves. Here are some:
No idea is really original
If you do discover a competitor, get over it. Quickly. Ideas are a dime a dozen and there’s no point in becoming angry or resentful that another company is near your turf. If it didn’t happen now, it would simply happen later — if you’re in a market with real demand, which is a good sign.
Look to your competitor and use that information to define what truly sets your company or offering apart. Do you have more experience? Offer a faster service? Appeal to a broader audience? Use that difference in your marketing materials and in new product development
Keeping an eye on competitors day after day will deliver plenty of valuable information, but it may stifle innovation. Keep rough tabs on rivals but also let yourself ignore it for awhile when it comes time to brainstorm new ideas. That said, if there’s a gap in the market you and your competitor aren’t filling, use new ideas to fill that niche.
Avoid price wars
It’s tempting to snatch away all potential customers by offering endless deals and discounts. While you may need a price correction if the market demands it, avoid being first to the punch with incredible deals. You might make the sale but lose respect and your bottom line over time.
Getting overly fixated on a direct competitor might make you forget to look at indirect ones. Maybe a larger organization offers the same service as you as a side offering, but that offering could grow. Or the product they have is part of a larger product line and it’s not apparent at first look. Keep your eye on the market and talk with your customers to find out what’s really going on, always.
If you are losing customers at a high rate to your competitors, go back to your business plan and make sure you’re doing everything right. A competitor might be just what you needed to help your company get back on track.