Any business is going to face competition. Even the big, successful businesses have faced some aspect of competition during their journey to become the best. Just because the business is big, doesn’t mean that they have any shortage of challenges from competition.
Small businesses have a tougher time at the beginning. Relying a lot on word-of-mouth, it can be difficult to develop your audience and let the public know where you are. One of the key aspects of small business competition is the size of the total available market in reach of the venture. Small businesses with physical locations are limited by traffic patterns, and the demographics of the neighborhood.
Another important issue is the number of competitors already in the market. For some types of businesses, new entry is a zero sum game: would you want more haircuts if there were more hairdressers out there? For these types of businesses, it is important to examine the number and density of competitors before launching a new venture. It is preferable to enter into markets where there are too few offerings; this means lower advertising costs and less need for discounting because customers will find you with or without a coupon.
During the development phase of your business you should be doing research to better understand the the market for your particular product or service. You don’t want to offer something that you are going to have to discount heavily in order to get customers in the first place. That will just cause you to go backwards on your journey.
Your business is hopefully going to grow and it’s up to you to do everything in your power to make that happen. Don’t work against your market. Identify the total available market for your product or service and identify how you can reach them. It may be in your best interest to take some courses on marketing so that you know how to reach your audience or you may want to invest some money into hiring a firm to help you identify yourself. Branding is really important. You need to be comfortable with who you are, what you are selling, and why you are selling. What people say about you is going to be your legacy.
With social media, people can either lift up a business or crush it with a simple statement. Complaints can go viral and ruin you before you even start. Figure out your brand, identify your audience and decide how to reach them effectively. How will you stand out from the crowd? If you have a physical location you will need to attract customers to your location. How can you do that effectively? Try to avoid gimmicks. People will buy it but only for a short time. You also run the risk of damaging the perceived value of your product or service.
The important thing to remember is that there is a market. What aspect of the total available market you can access is yet to be determined. Once you have your priorities and your battle plan in place you need to act on it. Don’t sit on it. Business is a war and customers are the spoils. While it may not be important to win the war, it is important to ensure that you at least win most of the battles. Stick to your plan and try not to do something crazy just because it sounds cool. Customers can smell desperation and you don’t want that to be the legacy of your business.
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