Unless you’re already an established brand or monopoly, your expansion will be limited if you do not come up with a proper strategy to ward off competition. In any industry or niche, business competition is one of the main factors that determine the survivability of firms. In fact, inability to handle competition is one of the top ten reasons why most startups fail. Below are some proved steps and strategies to stay ahead of the competition, regardless your niche or industry.
1. Know the competition
Any success-minded business should seek to understand how its competitors are really doing, and come up with measures to make its proposition more unique. If you do not know who your competitors are, how do you beat them? Invest the time to dig out as much information as you can about organizations that pose a competitive threat to your business.
2. Know your customers
Battles between competing businesses are usually won at the consumer level. No matter how much money you have in your marketing budget, you’re not going to be able to compete effectively if you haven’t spent the time to study your customers. Find out what your customers want. Is it a more flexible service? Is it better pricing? Is it better products? Make sure that you revise your sales and marketing strategies accordingly.
It’s important that you give your customers a couple of good reasons to stick to your products. If you’re able to only compete based on the price point, bigger brands will find it easy to shove you out of business. Craft a unique selling point that taps into what customers want. People shouldn’t have a problem figuring out what’s unique and different about your business. This way, they’ll still consider shopping at your place even when your competitors try to undercut you based on the pricing.
4. Revamp your image
What is the first thing that comes to your customers’ mind when they step at the front door of your premises? Do they get that idealistic image that bonds them to your business, or do they see ignored outdoors and congested indoors? Simple things such as painting the front of your premises, getting your windows cleaned and putting on better signage can make your business more inviting. Your business cards, stationery, branded packaging, website, clothing and other articles in your business should be equally appealing. In fact, they should represent your unique selling point.
5. Treat your customers well
Not treating existing customers well is one of the biggest mistakes that businesses make. You might feel compelled to focus on hunting for new customers, but your existing customers are actually more valuable. These are people who have already tested your product or service. They know your strengths, and they are more likely to come back in the future. More importantly, your happy and satisfied customers serve as a source of referrals that can, in turn, boost the profitability of your firm. Focus on providing better customer service than your competition. Become a more responsive business, and fulfill (or exceed) your customers’ expectations. If possible, considering offering extras to your customers, and come up with sustainable loyalty programs to keep people hooked to your firm.
6. Look for greener pastures
This is another awesome strategy that you can use to beat your competition. Selling to a greater number of not only increases your customer base but also spreads your risk. Think about selling overseas or online (if you don’t already do this). If there’s any likely target group that you haven’t approached before, think about how you can reach out to them. But don’t waste time marketing to groups that have no interest in your products or services.
7. Empower your employees
You probably already know that the best businesses are the ones that treat their employees well. For instance, think about Google. This is a multinational company that has employed some of the best minds in the tech scene. Their employees are all innovative people that can actually leave anytime and set up their own startups. But Google counters this and motivates its employees by creating an entire ‘life’ inside the company itself. That means freedom, amenities, entertainment, playing grounds for kids, and just about anything else anyone might need outside of work. If you empower your employees, they’re going to treat your customers well, and this is going to result in more profitability for you. So don’t boss people around. Instead, listen to their needs and provide the best working environment that you possibly can.
8. Think the future
Be a far-sighted business person. You might be doing a pretty good job at beating the competition right now. But are you going to be able to do the same ten years in the future? There’s a new crop of young people who are coming up with innovative business to solve customers’ problems. These are energetic and brilliant individuals who’ve assimilated the realities of the world and want to create a better business future. If you don’t think about how you can pioneer change in your niche or industry, you’ll probably be swept away whenever there’s a wave of change. Keep up with the latest developments in your niche. Follow consumer trends, economic patterns, and invest in new technology. The age of paper accounting is long gone – you can easily (and more so affordably) rely on computer solutions such as QuickBooks to keep your finances in order. Get a clear mental image of where you want to be in the next 3-5 years.
By following these small business tips and strategies, you’ll find it easy to stay ahead of the competition. Strong business leaders don’t wait until it’s too late to define the competition. Be a master of your own game and think about how you can expand your business and compete at a whole new level in the near future! If you have any competitive strategies that you think we left out of this lift, feel welcome to share in the comments section below!