Going back several years now, one of my main competitors decided to drop me a line to introduce himself – on reading the email I was quite positively lost for words. Having someone I had secretly despised email me out of the blue was very strange and a bit of a shock. One of the things he said to me will stick with me forever; “competition is good you know Nick!”.
I asked myself over and over for many weeks, just how can any form of competition be good? It took me a very long time to find my answer – but in retrospect it’s easy to understand why competition is good; it keeps you on your toes! Complacency creeps up on you in business, especially if you’ve got close to a monopoly. Having a pack of wolves (or competition) breathing down your neck ensures you’re aware of what’s going on around you at all times – ultimately it’s awareness that will help you beat off that competition.
There are many ways to ward off the competition – but perhaps the most fool proof way of defeating competition is to do things better than them. Of course price will always play a big factor in your competitions’ demise – but if you can offer an all round service that is evidently better than your competition – you’re on the right track.
You can wage war on (and beat) your competition in many ways:
- Pricing: it’s true that a lot of people consider price and price only when buying a product or service, if your price is lowest – you’re in with a good chance of beating the competition.
- Great all round service: customer service, delivery times, quality of products – all of these things are what customers use to decide just how good your service has been in their heads. Impress and they’ll recommend you to friends; fail to impress and they won’t use you again – even worse, they could dissuade people from using your company.
- Add value: there are many ways to add value once you’ve sold a product or service. My absolute favorite is to present my customers with some voucher codes to use on my website. You know what that means; they’re all smiles because they get a discount, I’m all smiles because I get even more business! You could also thing about offering free extras.
These are just three ways in which you can successfully differentiate yourself from the competition – eating away at their market share. If business in general has taught me one thing; there’s no market too saturated to operate in. Generally, people believe there is a need to carve out their own little niche in an effort to provide for a very select market – but ultimately a market with little or no competition. Some people spend months or years frantically looking for that tiny little niche for them to exploit – what’s the point? As soon as you set up a foothold in your precious little niche, some bottom feeding copycat will come along with a carbon copy of your business model – was all that time spent researching and getting to know your niche really worth it?
The thought of a saturated market can make people reel, and I really don’t understand why. A saturated market usually means one thing; there’s a huge demand for that product or service. Instead of conceding defeat and waving the white flag before you’ve even looked into operating in a saturated market, you should take some time to break the market down – more often than not there is room for a new face – there’s room for your new business! Some people might dismiss the idea of starting a business or entering a saturated market in a recession – and that’s fine, just make sure you’re not one of those people!
Making it in a saturated market isn’t easy – but at least with a busy market you know there is demand out there for the product you’re selling. You may have to sell your goods or service at a loss leader for a time – but surely this is a much better option than spending months or years on the sidelines, carefully researching a very exclusive niche?
It always amazes me that we’re advised to keep the people we dislike the most the sweetest – it’s good to remain professional when communicating with competitors, and it’s also a good idea not to go burning bridges when leaving your job before taking that big step to starting your own business. On both occasions you’d be forgiven for wanting to really speak your mind – but there must be method in the madness, right? Remaining cool, calm and collected at all times no matter what the provocation is just one discipline you simply have to master when it comes to business.
With hindsight, it’s abundantly clear why competition is good. Competition need not make your blood boil, and it should not fill you with envy – you should embrace it. If you’re going to be the best at what you do, you’re going to need to put a few noses out of joint – that’s regardless of what kind of market you operate in. Stop hating your competitors and start embracing them – you’ll find that beating them gets a whole lot easier when the red mist has ascended.