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Competition is healthy. It forces you to innovate, keeps you on your toes so that you don’t get lazy, and encourages you to provide the best you possibly can for your customers. With that said, it can be irritating to feel like you’re losing out on precious revenue if you’re a small fish in a big pond trying to get your business ahead. If you’re looking to grow your market share and turn your small business into a big business, read on to figure out how you can get a leg up on your competition!
Solicit customer opinions to find your strengths
People come to you for a reason, so figure out what that reason is. You could ask customers to complete surveys or questionnaires, or put a focus group together to get a sense for what people like about your business. In addition, take a look at your books to see what your top selling products or services are. Identifying what people like about your business will help you get ahead.
- Knowing what makes your business special shows you what you should focus on, and what you should forget about. If your customers don’t care about your warranties, for example, you don’t need to put any energy into selling them. If your customers love one particular product, you can focus on a marketing campaign to push it even further!
Expand your social media presence
See how people engage with your competitors compared to you. Your social media is big part of how you customers find and interact with you these days. If you aren’t on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Yelp, now is the time. Set up business accounts and encourage customers to like your page or post reviews. Engage with potential customers in online neighborhood groups, and post special offers to get new customers in the door.
- If you run a restaurant, post photos of your delicious food. If you run a clothing store, take fun flicks of new outfits as they arrive.
- Take a look at how your competition uses social media if your brand new to it.
- The more engagement you can cultivate online, the better. Always reply to people who comment on your posts!
Know your past and future competitors
When investors think about opportunities, they don’t just think of them in the present moment. The founders are expected to know about competitors who failed in the past, and about potential future competitors as well.For example, people have worked on Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality before and those efforts didn’t quite succeed. Many startups are working in these spaces again and say that this time things will be different. While that may very much be true, the investors want to know what exactly is different now, what conditions didn’t exist before, and why this time is going to be different.Similarly, it is important to think about who else may enter the market. This is a much more difficult dynamic to predict because by definition, predictions are difficult. Investors often ask the founders what would happen if Google or another large company went after their market. While not possible to predict, it is good to think about this question and be ready to answer when asked.
Work together with the competition
Reach out to your main competitor and see if you can join forces. This won’t always work depending on the business you run and what your competitors do, but it’s always better to work with people than against them. If you can find a way to build a working relationship, either by sponsoring something together or referring customers for specific products or services, you can both flourish!