Do you sometimes wish your competition would just go away? That you could be the only business in town that does what you do so you don’t have to worry about gaining or keeping customers? What if I told you that having competition can actually make your business stronger?
Whether it’s directly or indirectly, business owners almost always have to compete for their customers and then to retain those customers. And in an age of online shopping, the competition is both local and global. But, believe it or not, competition can be a good thing. It can help you understand your niche, it can show you where you are weak, it can motivate you to improve, and it can lead to unexpected partnerships. The key is to see your competition as an ally (of sorts) rather than an enemy.
In other words, competition doesn’t always have to be about winning and losing. It can be about growth and learning, building and partnering. How would it feel to see your competition as there to help build your business? How would you do business differently if you believed that both you and your competitors can be profitable, that no one has to lose?
Here are a few things to think about the next time you look down the street, across town, or on the web to see what your competition is up to:
- What do you know about your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How long have they been in business? What are they particularly known for? How might you support them? Be open to discovering you have immense respect and admiration for those you have been competing “against.”
- Do you know what sets your business, product or service apart from theirs? Use this information to get clear about your target market and how it differs from your competitors’. Perhaps a potential customer is really a better fit for your competition: are you willing to refer them so your customer gets what they are really looking for?
- Make a list of five reasons customers should choose your product over your competitions’ without putting your competitions’ product down. If you have to spend energy making another business look bad, you don’t have that energy available to tell your potential customers why your business, product, or service is the best possible choice for them (assuming it is). Besides, it’s not very becoming either.
- Be honest with yourself about how your competition is better than you. Is their product superior? Do they have better customer service? How can you learn from and emulate what they do well? Are you willing to ask them for help?
- How can you collaborate with your competition to create win-win situations that lead to greater profits for you both? Be willing to make referrals to your competition as appropriate and don’t be afraid to play nice in the sandbox; you never know where a positive relationship with your competitor might lead.