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What Working With a Startup Taught Me About Staying Competitive in an Uncertain Environment

While there are some industries with fewer businesses serving customer needs, competition is almost inseparable from running any business. The modern scene is flooded with e-commerce startups and launching a business has never been easier. However, new business owners acknowledge the fear that comes with pursuing a niche already served by several suppliers and retailers. […]

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While there are some industries with fewer businesses serving customer needs, competition is almost inseparable from running any business. The modern scene is flooded with e-commerce startups and launching a business has never been easier. However, new business owners acknowledge the fear that comes with pursuing a niche already served by several suppliers and retailers. It requires gaining a competitive edge and creating authority around your brand. If you run a business in an industry filled with competition, it is crucial to find new ways to distinguish your brand and attract a loyal community actively engaging with your business.

The modern customer has everything in hand to compare the top offers for whatever goods and services they seek. As such, it is essential to focus on outperforming the competition in all areas that you can, including customer service, shopping experience, conveniences, payment systems, communication, marketing and more. Nevertheless, obsessing over competition doesn’t help much. For companies looking to stay competitive in their markets, the goal is to identify the unique offer and focus on building the business around this core product. Whether you are a new entrepreneur or have been seeking strategies to help you stay competitive, here are five insight and eye-openers.

1.    Identify a void in your industry–and fill it

Most business owners are stuck in the early stages of launch when they find out there are several competitors in the market. On the other hand, successful marketers and entrepreneurs understand the opportunities in serving a competitive market. Having many competitors is a good indication that there is a demand for specific goods or services. However, if you want to stay competitive, it is essential to address specific consumer needs and pain points. You need to ask open-end questions that help you understand what your prospective customers need. Instead of pursuing a new area with limited research and experience, you can identify voids in the current supply chain.

My friends over at Moi Moi Fine Jewellery did exactly this, with their focus on selling a diamond alternative: Moissanite, which offered the exact same look as a diamond but at a fraction of the cost – which was perfect for a demographic looking to an affordable purchase without sacrificing the bold engagement ring look.

Exploiting these voids can quickly identify your primary value in the grand scheme and curve a unique market with precise needs that you meet. You can review your top competitors, their strategies and voids that you can fill to create a better experience and value for the customer.

2.    Make innovation your best friend

It is no doubt that innovation drives modern business and success in various other aspects of our lives. Current business owners must continually reinvent the wheel, review their performance, collect feedback and recreate the experience for better customer satisfaction. Innovation doesn’t always imply coming up with alien ideas for the business. Nonetheless, investing in research and creativity teams for new efficient strategies is worth the try. For business owners, replicating what top competitors offer isn’t enough. Consumers are looking for distinguishable businesses with specific attributes. As such, it is crucial to reinvent the business and come up with better systems, experiences, interfaces and products for your customers.  Innovation is often associated with new creations, which implies knowing what already exists. From your competition research, you can identify the top competitors and examine their offer to see whether there is room for innovation. It is also essential to analyse your business and identify opportunities for innovation.

3.    Build your own niche to have more room for your business

The most successful and competitive firms have a unique niche that they serve. The niche is defined clearly in the company’s mission and vision statements or business plan. It is crucial to identify your unique purpose and role in the supply chain. This includes outlining the essential products or business offer and target market down to the little demographics.  Analyzing the market and competition to find voids your business can fill can provide access to different categories of customers.  You can then pick a niche with specific interests and needs and build your business around serving those unique requirements. Having defined niches gives you company more room to expand and include specific offers that your customer base has requested. By building your niche, the business will have more room to streamline production and service production as well as customer service. From the start, your customer already identifies the business with specific products, services or information, leaving you in control of how the business shapes.

4.    Don’t compete on price

Price is one of the crucial factors consumers use to make shopping choices. However, the modern customer approaches shopping with a pre-determined budget and prioritizes the best quality for their sacrifice. As such, competing on price is no longer an efficient strategy, especially in a competitive market capable of premium quality experiences. Price is the last comparison for most buyers, after identifying the best solutions for their needs. It is still crucial to set up your business accounting and ensure you aren’t running at a loss. Price is merely a limiting factor for the consumer, who is more intrigued by top value for their money.

It’s more and more common for chefs to change up their offerings from just simply cooking great meals to creating a relatable brand message alongside their offerings to differentiate themselves from other chefs. An example is the recent increase of demand for creating sustainable food for people to enjoy.

By focusing on offering high-quality products and experiences, your customers won’t mind the prices you set, provided it remains within reasonable ranges. If the price isn’t your competitive edge, it means the business has unique advantages and well-established customers. After all, staying competitive is all about establishing a sustainable base of loyal customers over the years.

5.    Don’t stress or obsess over your competition

Researching your market and competitors is an integral part of business, especially if you want to remain competitive in the fast-changing industry. For instance, if your competition is using novel technology to streamline and optimize content delivery, lead generation, customer service and security, it is essential to contemplate how you can replicate and better their results. However, it doesn’t help to stress or obsess over your competition.

Instead, focus on building assets that you can control in your business. For example, assets such as having your own database of customer emails so you can send out newsletters to, will mean you won’t have you rely on external factors and you will have your own marketing channel that you control and your customers can’t affect you.

Remember, competition is an excellent sign of demand and you can learn a lot from the success and failure of other merchants. Once you finish the initial comprehensive review of your competition, you can create a model for evolving your business and identifying the best techniques old and new competitors are using. Competition is like a metric used for analytics to identify opportunities and increase the value provided to the final customer. As such, you should keep tabs with your competition, not necessarily losing sleep because of it.

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