When you’re running a business one of your biggest challenges is the competition. After all, if there were no other businesses in the same industry, you’d be the only game in town, you’d be successful by default! Unfortunately, all businesses do indeed have to cope with competition, and today we’re taking a look at the issue: specifically, is coexistence possible?
Most business advice talks about dominance: it assumes you’ll want to grow as big as possible and dwarf, dominate and outcompete any competitors. Is this the right choice though? That’s what we’re looking at today?
Who Are Your Competitors?
The first step in understanding the right way to approach the competition is finding out who they are! While some competitors it’s easy to be aware of – high profile online brands, other businesses near your geographical location and so on – others need a specialist to identify and break down. A competitor analysis report will tell you who’s out there, competing for the same customers, materials and advertising space.
Who are Your Customers?
The missing piece of the puzzle is your customers. You need to know who they are, where they come from and how many of them are out there. This is vital information, as it helps you tailor your offering to the people who are looking to buy, but also it helps identify the kind of competition you’re engaged.
How to Compete
The kind of competition, and stakes hanging over it depend on how much of the total market for your industry is already tapped. If there are still customers out there to claim, uncommitted to a single brand, not yet plugged into any version of the service you offer, then the competition you have with fellow businesses is much more benign. You’re racing to claim more customers of the pool of potentials who are out there.
If all the customers are already claimed, if you’re a streaming service and everyone in the world is already subscribed to Netflix or Disney, you’re locked into a zero sum game: your every success can only be at someone else’s cost, and of course, vice versa. You can only gain new customers by taking them off someone else, and other people can only gain new customers by taking them off you.
If you’re one of a number of small businesses in a big market, then that more benign form of competition and coexistence is not just possible, but desirable. The key to success is finding the white space in the market – the customers your competitors aren’t trying to capture, the times of year they’re not launching sales and products, the needs they aren’t trying to meet.
If you’re able to – through careful use of market and competitor research – find those open fields, then you’ve found the opportunities that will sustain your business a long time into the future.