Competition in all its forms is a natural consequence of the human experience. It’s what allows us to thrive, strive and succeed, to go above and beyond for ourselves. This is especially true in the business world and is in fact, what drives innovation in products and services. Innovation drives almost every industry – whether it’s medical, or food-service – competition is a natural consequence of business.
Finding Your Strengths & Playing to Them
If you’re a young and aspiring entrepreneur, one of the first things you’ll want to identify are your strengths (and your weaknesses, but don’t focus on them for now). Clearly identifying your strengths will allow you to be able to play to them in your new business venture. If you’re great at communicating with others and you know it, then perhaps writing or public speaking on behalf of others could become a small business.
If you’re artistic, then there’s great reward to be found in utilising those artistic skills to create beautiful art through your chosen medium, whether that’s painting or photography or graphic design.
If you don’t know what your strengths are, one of the best ways to do this is to ask others! Find people who know you, who know what you’re like and how you carry yourself in the world and ask them what your strengths are. Make sure you write them down on paper and remind yourself of them every so often.
Once you know your strengths, come up with a plan to incorporate each one into your business idea. Whether they are business strengths or character/personality traits, both things are valid ‘strengths’ that can and should be utilised in your new business venture.
Knowing and playing to your strengths will allow you to have a clear roadmap to success, independent of your competition in whatever your chosen industry is.
Learn from Your Competition
One of the smartest things any entrepreneur can do is to learn from their competitors. If they’re already established as competition, chances are they’ve been doing something right for many years and while yes, they’re competition, they also provide an endless opportunity for you, as a newcomer to whatever industry, to learn and grow.
For example, let’s say you’re a veterinarian looking to branch out with your own clinic, having worked under others for many years. Or let’s say you’re a newly minted vet with an entrepreneurial spirit. The veterinary industry is saturated and highly competitive – but also, necessary. Everyone needs vets. But maybe you can offer a service that puts your veterinary skills to use, in such a way that is different from your competition. Maybe you can offer in-home pet euthanasia, to give your clients and their pets a dignified death in the home that they share and love, rather than a steel table in an unfamiliar place. Owners and pets alike will appreciate that service, and it will set you apart from the competition.
Branching out in this way may be your ticket to becoming a successful, outstanding vet in your area, rather than just another face in the white-coat crowd of vets.
Finding Leaks in Their Strategies
One of the ways to rise above the competition is to figure out where they’re falling and if you think you can pick up the slack, capitalise on it. No business is perfect and as well as one might be doing, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s something they’re missing. Most businesses have some sort of weakness or leak in their strategy – whether that’s marketing or the actual day-to-day running of the business, inefficiency, or customer dissatisfaction. Learning from your competition also means learning from their mistakes and their successes.
Don’t Go Toe-to-Toe
To go toe-to-toe with an already-established business is a fool’s errand and a waste of your time, money and effort. You won’t be able to compete in a last-man-standing match with a business that’s already been standing for 20 years. Instead of going toe-to-toe, look for ways to improve upon their already existing business ideas or strategies. Bring your own strengths to bear and branch out on your own. You could even (at first) make friends and connections with the businesses that rival you, who knows, it might be useful in the future.
Value Your Customers
Particularly in the beginning of your business venture, your repeat customers are like gold. They’re choosing to come to you rather than your competitors. They’re choosing your business over someone already established. Make sure that you value that and reward them with the best quality product(s) possible. Thank them for their business every time and be consistent.
Build Your Own Audience
One of the most important things you can do is to build your own success – or build your own audience. Don’t try to piggyback off the successes of your competitors. Build your own networks and repeat clientele. Make sure that your business offers something that will keep your customers coming back and telling their friends and neighbours and your business will naturally blossom.
Competition in the business world is what makes the wheels on the business world bus go round and round. There’s no harm in it and it’s beneficial to entrepreneurship and business in innumerable ways. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and think you have a business idea that’s filling a gap in the chosen industry, then go for it. Put your heart and soul into it. Know your competition, work with and against them simultaneously. Play to your strengths and build your own success.