WATCH YOUR BACK: DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHO YOUR COMPETITION IS?

We are always aware of small business owners complain about their business difficulties and most importantly, their competition. With less money, less visibility and fewer resources to fight for the all important consumer’s money, entrepreneurs have always found beating competitors a bitter struggle. That’s why it is critical to direct your efforts at the rivals that are really going to affect your bottom line…………rivals that are not always easy to identify.

Truth be told, competition is a major danger for small business, but the real competitor isn’t the one who sells the same thing you do. It’s the one who doesn’t look like you who would do more harm to your business.

For instance, GSM network companies now compete with internet (online) based social networking website for their popular text messages. Tailors, who we now call fashion designers, now compete with clothing stores and boutiques. Gas/patrol station also compete with convenience stores or super markets. And super markets then in turn compete with discount retail and wholesale stores.

The same applies to others, no matter how small your business is. The owner of a roadside restaurant, should not worry about the next roadside restaurant down the road. Bigger competition comes from the whole world of fast food. Competition comes from all directions, making it challenging to find a solution.

How can a small business compete? The answer lies in leaving to identify the real sources of competition and the best ways to divert traffic from their establishments to yours. It takes time, creativity, even a false start or two, but the results are well worth the effort.

For a small business owner, specializing in one particular kind of business is one sure way to start small. Some of your customers might be worried about the price of your services/product, while some might not. It is important to target your market because it isn’t everybody you can serve or satisfy. You need to be careful in maintaining competitive pricing. All they want is good service. You need to create a better customer relations to beat off your competitors, whether they are in the same line of business with you or not.

Even though it is good to specialize in a particular aspect of business, small business owners simply need to be aware of changing consumer tastes and priorities, then devise creative ways to satisfy them.

If you own a non-alcoholic or an alcoholic beverage shop and a big discount store like Shoprite comes up with competitive discount prices, realize you can not offer everything the discounter does. Instead you need a different approach, you can offer to deliver your products to their homes or offices or simply do some marketing research. Ask your customers, they will tell you what makes them come back.

You could also try targeting a different market. Think about customers who visit your shopping center or office building for other needs but do not come to your business. Is there anything you can offer them that would get them into your shop/office?

You don’t need to narrow your definition of a competitor down to a building with a sign on it. A competitor can also be a trend or attitude that kills your business slowly, such social media (facebook, twitter, linkedin) and print media (e.g newspapers, magazines) and so on.

Take time, for instance or the lack of it. It is still true that people are always in a hurry; some people, in fact, say they are more rushed now than ever. And while you may not think of time poverty as a competitor, in many ways it acts like one. Customers on their lunch hour will choose the closest, most convenient place to do their shopping, even if something better is “just around the corner.”

People pressed for time look for shopping opportunities in places where they take lunch breaks or catch the train home. They wants home delivery, 30 minute meal service, evening business hours and easy assembly instructions.

While unseen forces are usually too nebulous or inevitable to control, it is possible to minimize their impact. Paying attention to up and coming trends, either positive or negative, can give the small business owner just enough time to change a product line or develop a special promotion.

One way to hold your own against competitors is by forming alliances with others in your industry. You can meet others in your line of work and also profit from this strategy by referring business to each other, if you and your members are booked up. We call this business networking.

Small businesses are flexible and dynamic enough to avoid the blows from competition, as long as they recognize who or what the true competitor is. But however you decide to fight back, winning the “war” is not always the goal. Knowing the enemy and picking your battles carefully are skills far more important to small business survival.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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