You have many challenges as a small business owner. There are customers to woo, bills to pay, upgrades to make and wares to sell. You’re also dealing with byzantine regulations and trying to see how or even if Congress can help you out.
So it’s easy to understand why your competition might take a backseat to those pressing concerns. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my years working for businesses ranging from tiny to global, it’s that underestimating companies in your vertical is a foolish mistake to make.
I suppose I should be giving you a friendly, kumbaya message about how small businesses should work together, but that’s simply not realistic all the time. Sometimes, you must crush the competition in order to thrive. In fact, sometimes you need to have a healthy obsession with the businesses both small and large who are cutting into your customer count.
As I see it, there are a few ways to get started on sizing up your competition before you (not literally, please) destroy them. Here’s my handy list:
- Identify your competition. Who is competing directly in your space? How long have they been around, and what’s their name recognition in the community? The better you know, the better you’ll be able to win them over.
- Make a map of your competition. How close are they to your front door? Are they taking foot traffic or vehicle traffic away? Do you have the prime real estate, or do they? Getting a sense of location can help you determine a strategy for appealing to customers and gaining business.
- Develop a list of strengths and weaknesses. Figure out where your business has the upper hand and where you need to improve. If you have the higher quality merchandise but your competitor’s absurdly low prices are costing your customers, it may behoove you to lower prices somewhat. Similarly, you shouldn’t let a good idea go unchallenged, especially if you can create a better version of what your competitor is up to.
You’re in the trenches out there, though. What tips do you have for fellow small business owners facing stiff competition?
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