Swimming With The Sharks
In 1939, Martin Goodman founded Marvel, a company that experienced instant success especially with the production of Captain America, SubMarine, etc. it continued to grow in sales for decades until the 1980s. Marvel started to lose ground to its competitors, DC Comics, when DC Comics began to produce series like Superman, Batman, Watchman, etc.
Marvel’s financial success was dealt a huge blow in 1992 when some of its finest writers left to start their own company.
Shortly after, Marvel decided to form a merger with Tom Biz and this saved them from bankruptcy especially after the release of movies like Spiderman and X-Men.
Then in 2009, Marvel was bought by Disney for $4 billion and has since recorded overwhelming success with movies like Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.
All is fair in love and war and in the world of business. Think of it like living in wildlife; either eat or get eaten. Now, this is not to encourage hostility but to face the reality of business environs today. Just like in life generally, in business, there will always be someone bigger or better at what they are doing. And the solution is not to put your tail between your legs and get scared away out of intimidation. The mere fact that there is someone better than you should motivate you. Of course, we all don’t approach competition in the same way. That’s why this post is meant to address those who don’t run away from sharks or try a head-to-head collision with them; it is for those who want to swim alongside them or come out leading the shiver.
How then can one make the most of the competition?
Know the Sharks
You probably should have even known your competitors before starting the business unless of course, you’re the one who first started it. Soon enough anyway, you may begin to notice rivals. Now you don’t have to go threaten them as the local vegetable sellers do in my area. Big business people now see that as cowardice and unprofessional. What you should do is, study them –their strengths & weaknesses. If they prove successful, learn how they managed to grow their business as well. This will give you insight on how to manage yours and make adjustments where necessary and this brings us to the second point.
The next question to ask yourself is “what is your competitive advantage?” some people call it a Unique Selling Point (USP). What is it that people notice about your business and brand at first glance? If you’re unsure or not clear enough, you want to begin to work on that. Identify a unique characteristic that differentiates you from your competitors. For example, you could choose to make your own products/services more affordable, or with more exceptional customer service, or more quality, etc. That way, you get to attract/retain customers that acknowledge your uniqueness.
To succeed in business, one must exhibit some qualities some of which include courage, boldness, patience, resilience, etc. These are qualities that will enable you to take risks, have the big picture in mind, and stay calm in turbulent times. Confidence is also what helps business owners stand on their feet again after failing. And we all know that sometimes, mistakes are inevitable. Confident business owners see competition as opportunities, not setbacks.
Exploit industry trends
When there is competition, it simply means there are consumers in demand. Competitions exist only in lucrative markets as no one wants to get into a train that’s going downhill. It becomes pertinent to study what is working and what is not and then adapting to these changes. In the last decade, we’ve seen a major shift from the traditional and local ways of doing business into the digital age. Imagine what happens to a company that chose to remain in the former.
Narrow down your niche
This can also mean having a clear and simple mission and vision statement. When dealing with competition, it is no time to begin to spread oneself too thinly. You want to be known for something if you want to develop a competitive edge. By all means, feel free to venture into diverse fields and branches every now and then. The goal is to be able to balance them all to fit one umbrella, your niche, or vision statement. Once they don’t tally, that’s where the problem lies. For instance company A is a health service provider; they sell products geared towards bettering people’s health. But they also offer consultation services, fitness services, and community outreach services. But if company A decides to begin to sell clothing and wears, that may become a conflict of interest.
Look after your existing customers
You know by now that your competitors will target your customers, and that is why you cannot be in denial. If you didn’t have a good relationship with your existing customers before, now is the time to sharpen it. Send them text messages and emails just to check up on them sometime. Offer bonus sales; take advantage of occasions like holiday celebrations, anniversaries, birthdays, etc just to do something special for them. This makes them feel it is not just about business with you but a relationship and it will go a long way in retaining your existing customers.