As hard as you may try to find a market that is new and untapped, you can’t really avoid competition in business. Your target market is more than likely also someone else’s target market as well. Even if no one is selling or offering your particular service, you are still, in a sense, “competing” for the same customers.
If you’re worried about competition, you have every right to be. A new competitor can cut profits, create less customers and, at best, cause you to have to work harder to promote your business. However, this worry can also get in the way of creating a great business that people will gravitate towards regardless of the competition factor.
If you’ve been struggling with this situation, here are a few tips to consider:
- Discover the competition. Make note of who else is in your area or genre may be targeting your same audience or customers. It always pays to be informed. Take time out every few months to really look at what is happening in your marketplace. Sometimes your competitors can actually be helpful by highlighting tactics that may work or not work. You may not have noticed a new trend that is picking up traction, but a competitor may have. Or, you may have been thinking of a new sales tactic that a competitor just implemented with no luck. Use your observations of your competitors as a learning exercise.
- Ignore rumors or gossip. Not every business person is ethical. If they think a rumor will help facilitate more business, you can bet they’ll foster the idle whispers. This is more applicable to local small businesses, but it is also applicable for any business person. Rumors and gossip eat up your creative time and make you less productive. Instead of spending your energy and efforts on your business, you’re wasting that time dealing with petty gossip. Do whatever you have to do make it clear that the rumors are untrue or unfounded, and then ignore them. The worst insult you can give to someone who gossips is to show that what they are saying doesn’t phase you.
- Focus on your business more intently. Whenever the urge to stress about the competition hits you, use that energy to put in some extra time working on promoting your business instead. Henry Ford said it best, “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.“ While it’s good to know what’s going on in your industry, it’s a huge waste of energy to dwell on it. All you can change is your business, so focus on that.
- Always be looking for a unique angle. If you are faced with a lot of competition, it might be a good time to start looking for a different angle with less competition. Focus on what makes your business unique. It may be your personal experience, the way you handle orders or even various products that you offer. Think about what makes you stand out from the pack. If you don’t have an answer to that, it may be time to come up with one.
- Bridge the gap. A new competitor can mean a loss of business. Even if it’s a temporary shift while people “check out” what’s new, it can put a dent in your profits. One way of combating this loss, and future competition, is to partner with other businesses that share the same market, but aren’t necessarily competition. For instance, the gym membership contests you may see at your local chiropractor's office are a perfect example of this. To get the other businesses on board, it is helpful to approach them with an idea that will provide a win-win scenario for both of you.
- Focus on the bright side. At the end of the day, anything that has you seriously looking at the viability of your business and how you can promote it better is a good thing. Think about these words from Colin Powell, “The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.” Not everyone is going to have a strong work ethic and be willing to put the time and energy into making their business a success. The ones that do are the ones that make it, regardless of the competition.