If you’re planning on starting your own business, you’ve likely got your great idea for a product or a plan to do it better than the norm, you’ve got the hunger to go your own way and not have a manager telling you what to do. But do you know how you’re going to approach the competition?
Very few entrepreneurs are lucky or inspired enough to come up with a wholly new product that they can launch without competition. Even the big tech innovations of recent years like media streaming or ride apps launched in competition with traditional methods of media consumption and taxi booking. You’re always going to be entering a crowded market, whether you’re incubating a revolutionary new Fintech product or opening a shoe shop on your local highstreet. There’s no way to avoid this reality, you just need to plan what you’re going to do about.
Get Some Help, Get Some Insights
If you have the resources, it’s worth getting some professional help as most smaller businesses can’t reasonably know how to do competitor analysis. Consultants can help you identify the most important competitors in your space, and identify which ones are your peers, which are less well resourced and less of a threat, and which are the titans you will slowly work toward.
Outcompeting everyone isn’t a viable strategy – there will always be more established brands with not just deeper pockets but years of loyalty you can’t dislodge easily however much you throw at your marketing budget. The important thing to do is understand what your niche is within this ecosystem – where’s the space that allows you to establish yourself, start creating a loyal customer base and growing. One day you’ll be the grand old brand a new starter can’t hope to dethrone.
The most important thing you can do is work out what you can do differently to the competition. Dominating is much less important than simply standing out, finding your white space, being it conceptually, geographically, or temporally. Identifying when your closest competitors will be launching new products or beginning marketing pushes or sales allows you to schedule around them so you’re not competing with their advertising and forcing every potential customer to choose between you.
You can also use market research to help you here. You can’t stand out effectively unless you know what your customers think about you, and what they value about you. If you don’t know what your customers think and what they want from you, you run the risk of undermining their attraction to you. If they want a premium experience and they see that in you but you’re not aware of it, you run the risk of driving them away by trying to emphasise value. Learn what your customers want and lean into that to find your own space in a crowded marketplace.