Suzzanne Laidlaw (pictured below) is an internationally accredited business coach, global leader in business planning and author of the new book, “What’s Your Plan?”. In this guest post, Laidlaw argues that examining your competitors might be just as important for post COVID-19 success as examining your own…
The industries around you are always changing, new competitors are entering the market, new products and services are being launched and it’s important to keep up if you want to be successful. Particularly as businesses re-emerge ‘post COVID’, there will be a distinct separation between those that have proactively adjusted to the current business climate, versus those who have fallen behind.
It’s important to research your competitors so you can understand as much about them as possible and better prepare yourself for greater business success. Some key questions you should ask yourself are:
- Do you know who your competitors are?
- How many other suppliers or outlets are supplying the same product or service?
- What are they offering and more importantly, what are they offering that you’re not?
- What do they do better than you? What do you do better than them?
- What are their prices compared to yours? Are they higher or lower?
- What is so special about your product? Why would someone buy it from you instead of someone else?
If you can’t answer these questions, you have no way of protecting yourself from your competition and can’t focus on proactive strategies required to take your business to the next level. The top 3 steps I recommend, to help you get ahead of your competitors, are:
- Check Out Your Competition
Conducting a current competitor analysis is about seeing where you can expose opportunities to stand out against your competitors. As ‘success leaves clues’, you can look at what is happening in other countries as well as understand as much as you can about the competitors in your own backyard to give yourself greater chances of success.
- Know your Unique Selling Point (USP)
A great place to start, is asking yourself “What makes your product and your company unique?” Knowing your USP will set you apart from your competitors, and can be articulated as a single, unique benefit, appeal or big promise that you hold out to your prospects and customers, or a benefit or promise that no other competitor offers. Don’t try to be all things to all people, just focus on one thing and do it extremely well.
- Conduct a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is a powerful process used to identify your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. If you act upon the information you gain from the process, you can improve your position in your market.
To identify your strengths, ask yourself what does your business do particularly well or what sets you apart in your industry? Knowing your strengths is powerful; you can communicate this with your team and your customers, i.e. on your website, in proposals or tenders. Just as knowing your strengths is important, knowing the weaknesses of your business is equally so. By being aware of your weaknesses you can focus on the actions you can take to mitigate them.
Identifying opportunities in your business helps you to look into the future. By doing this, you can recognise what hidden potential exists in your business or industry and what you can proactively do to capitalise on those opportunities. Lastly, if you can foresee potential threats that your business might encounter, you can work to lessen or avoid the blows before they become a bigger concern.
How secure do you feel that your business has the means, method and ability to surpass your competitors? I’ve seen time and time again, business owners facing challenges that they could have mitigated by undertaking some research. In many cases, those challenging situations could have been avoided altogether.
Considering the long-term impact of every business decision you make can have a massive difference to your success, so I hope you can use these proactive steps towards becoming number 1 in your industry and giving your business a competitive edge.
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