In the business world, it's close to impossible not to have competitors. Often, we see competition as a bad thing, but in reality, it is one of your best sources of information, especially if you are new to the industry and are just starting up.
Here's what you can do to gather information and how you can best research your industry and your market using your competitors.
Competitive Intelligence says you should have five main competitors. These are businesses who are a similar size to you and offer a similar product or service at a similar price. For example, a small consulting firm does not compete with KPMG. It competes with other small consulting firms.
Know the Basics
Find your top 5 competitors. Find out how long they have been around. The best ones to look at are the successful, rapidly growing ones. For limited companies or limited liability partnerships, you can find their accounts on Companies House. These quickly give you an idea of who is growing and who is not. You should look carefully at their marketing messages. What marketing channels do they use? Do they have promotions/ sales etc.? What do they use to entice new customers?
You should never steal a competitor’s ideas but they can jump-start your own thinking. If you want to ethically steal an idea, then have a look at what successful businesses in other non-competing sectors are doing. This often gives you a rich vein of ideas.
One of the best ways to research your competitors is to be one of their customers. Try out your competitors' products and services. You will get a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses which you can eventually use to your advantage. While you will focus on their product or service, you should also look at their customers service. For example, do they respond to inquiries immediately or does it take them weeks to answer?
A good place to start is reviewing their web site. Are they targeting a segment of the market or are they asking for anyone and everyone? You can always cut through your competitors by speaking directly to a well-defined target market.
A good question to ask your target market is “What do you hate about businesses in (insert your industry)? This gives you a very useful insight into how to win more customers.
Online reviews are one of the best sources of honest customer feedback. These reviews will give you useful and revealing insights into your competitors. You will find out where they are doing well and where they are struggling. You can then focus on turning their weaknesses into opportunities for you, while being careful not to play into their strengths.
Find Them on the Internet
Google is your best friend. You’ve already reviewed their web site to find their target market (if any) and analyse their strengths and weaknesses but you need to look deeper. How are they ranking on Google? Do they have a blog? How often is their content updated? Do they use videos? Do they offer content you can download by sharing your email?
Again, you should not copy what they are doing but you will get some ideas of what is possible and what looks good.
Starting up a small business is not easy. It takes time, effort and passion. If you are a start-up business who would like some support and want an accountant who can make everything easier, then contact us now through email@example.com or call us at 44 (0) 1892 807 001.