When envisioning and establishing my business, I focused on both short- and long-term goals. My short-term goal was to outgrow a local competitor’s annual gross sales. I knew I wanted to eventually compete with multimillion-dollar giants, but first, I needed to examine my strengths and their weaknesses.
Market competition can create a battleground. My goal was to win the war. This mindset might be controversial, but many businesses have failed because they did not capitalize on their competitors’ faults. I built my business from modest beginnings to achieve multimillion-dollar revenues by distinguishing my venture from others like it. Here’s how:
- Analyze the industry. Studying the competition allows you to find weaknesses in their organizations. Begin by subscribing to their newsletters. Approach a competitor as an interested customer so you can see what its sales and customer service processes are like. I was able to gain invaluable information by simply buying a product and noting the logistics of the sales process. You can take it further and visiting the business’ location, which allows you to speak to managers or even the owner. To your benefit, many of these leaders will brag about how they started their businesses — or their own accomplishments. Take note and begin to brainstorm ideas for setting your business apart.
- Outshine the competition. Now that you’ve gained knowledge about your competitors, put it to use. Create a more professional, user-friendly website. If applicable, outbid your competitors and secure exclusive contracts with your clients. Work to take your competitors out of the picture. By limiting their market appeal, you can increase your own. Your goal is to provide the most effective and efficient service or product from the start so customers recognize the quality of your company as well as its integrity.
- Focus on customer service. Do this by assembling the best team possible. After all, your business is only as good as your employees — they’re the face of your company. Positive and resourceful customer service helps set your venture apart at the outset, since larger companies are simply not as hungry for new customers. Aim to create the best shopping experience for your customers and do not compromise on the quality of your employees. Seek out intelligent and independent individuals who share your passion and vision. Regular communication about business priorities and strategies is crucial to professional and monetary growth.
- Create quiet opportunities. This can be difficult. As you’re putting together the best team, best product, and best marketing, you want to keep a low profile. If you’re overexposed, your competitors will notice quickly and begin fighting back for market share. Try to keep your company under the radar as long as possible, while also gaining valuable and dedicated customers. Once those customers understand the quality and reliability of your business, they will remain loyal — despite increased attention or competitors who might offer lower prices or more blatant promotions.
- Maintain your lead. You should know your business better than anyone. Be proactive and deliver a quality product or service consistently. The most successful entrepreneurs anticipate future advances in technology, customer service, and production, and incorporate them into their game plans. You need to constantly push yourself and your team to new heights through active research and by attending professional conferences to avoid losing your edge to the competition. Team-building and potential contacts enrich the overall experience.
While a magic formula to benefit from the competition’s weaknesses — and boost your business — doesn’t exist, conducting extensive research is the key to see how your business can better connect with customers. Once you find your niche, you can begin building and maintaining your momentum by delivering quality service and a unique experience. The way to the top can be a war. Make sure you are motivated and diligent enough to be the victor.
Yosef Martin is founder and President of Merchandize Liquidators, a closeout and liquidation wholesale company specializing in selling overstock and customer-returned merchandise from major stores back to the market for a fraction of the original wholesale cost. A thought leader and entrepreneurial expert, Yosef welcomes anyone to reach out to him on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.