October 25, 2014

Who Is Your Business Competition?

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.

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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?


Searching Photo via Shutterstock

3 Comments ▼

David Choate


David Choate Dave Choate is a business writer by day and by night. David has been writing about small business, marketing and financing for BizEngine since 2011, and has penned guest articles for a host of sites.

3 Reactions

  1. Agree with you Dave. The reality is we can’t ignore competitors as they are trying to woo our customers just as we are trying to attract their customers. One thing I would add is to understand their positioning and key message to help differentiate your brand.

  2. That’s a great point, Susan. Particularly if their brand is entrenched in the community, you probably won’t beat them by offering similar messaging. Thanks for the comment!

  3. The SBA has a tool called the SizeUp Widget that’s neat to use to find your local competition based on the products and services that you sell.

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