Who is My Competition?

Question #6 on the Junior Achievement List of 20 Questions to ask before deciding on starting a business is Who is My Competition?

To figure this out, there are other questions you need to ask including:

• How many are there?

• Where are they located?

• What products/services do they offer that you do not?

• What products/services don’t they offer that you can?

• What is their advertising strategy?  Where are social media do they advertise?

There are several great things you can learn by researching your competitors.

• You can potentially avoid the same mistakes they’ve made.

• You can gain information that will help you with the decisions you’ll need to make about where to locate your business, what to charge for your products/services and what advertising strategy might work for you.

How do I find out about my competitors?

You need to do research about the industry your business is positioned in.  You want to find out how many other businesses like yours are operating within your city or county, or on the web if you are a computer based business.

According to Johnston Community College in North Carolina, “Customer research will guide you to where your potential customers are shopping and why.  As part of your competitor research, you may want to ask potential customers survey questions geared to discover information about the competition. If they currently use products or services like yours, where are they buying them? What are they paying for them? What do they like and dislike about your competition?”

Once you have identified who your competitors are, be sure to visit their web site if they have one and their social media sites.  Follow them on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and other sites.  You can learn a lot from  their web sites and social media sites. For example, they may have information about prices, services, locations and contact information. The look and features of the web site itself will give you an idea of your competitor’s professionalism and quite possibly about their resources.

You might consider calling your competitors directly asking the kinds of questions a customer/client would.  Those questions could be about the prices they charge, the types of products and services they sell, turnaround time for service and anything else you need to know.  If your competitor has a storefront, visit it for ideas about products and advertising.

Another way to find out about your competitors is to talk to others who have had dealings with them including their customers, other businesses who had dealings with them and their suppliers if know who they are.   You can find out what kind-of service they provide, how well they work with their suppliers.

The Johnston Community College has the Competitors Worksheet available to help you identify and document your competitors.  Take great notes and refer back to them when trying to create your business plan and marketing strategy.

This lesson is meant as an overview.  You will have to do some research on how to do the research.  Try asking Ehow.com how to research competitors, how to do market research and how to do industry research.  You will have to use google and other search engines to decide on the key words you’ll need to use to find your competition.

At this point, you’ll need to ask yourself again, “Are you committed to your dream and to doing whatever it takes to make it happen?”

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Peggy Lee Hanson - October 25, 2012

Competitors can become an ally, too. Great info! Thanks!

    Julia - October 25, 2012

    What a great point Peggy Lee. I find myself planning JVs with some of my “competitors.” I actually believe that there’s enough to go around and if we help each other we become stronger and richer :-). Thank you for stopping by.

Nanette Levin - October 25, 2012

This is a great overview on researching business competition. I might add competitors can also be businesses that are not selling a similar product or service but instead, competing for the same dollars (e.g. bicycle and kayak rental facilities – both vying for the recreational market). The good news is you can approach complimentary businesses (e.g. florists, hair salons and caterers if your service is directed at brides) to cross promote. Most will welcome sending their customers to you if you approach with a creative idea that helps you both.
Nanette Levin recently posted…Newsweek throws in the towel on print editionMy Profile

    Julia - October 25, 2012

    You make great points Nanette. I will definitely add these points when I put edit this post for the new book. Thank you for your contribution, I very much appreciate it. As I mentioned to Peggy Lee, I am in talks with several “competitors” to form a JV. We may all offer similar programs and potentially have the same clients, however, we all believe that there’s enough to go around and we can only strengthen each other.

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. - October 25, 2012

A very important concept is to pick two or three competitors. One that seems to be “perfect” in every way. The other that is in its first five years of business. The third is one that used to be tops and now seems to have lost its market share.
By studying them- what they do, what they don’t do- you can earn an “MBA” in doing what is best for your business.
Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. recently posted…A level playing field? Or scorched earth?My Profile

    Julia - October 25, 2012

    Thank you for that pearl of wisdom Roy. I appreciate your input and will also include this insight when I edit the post for the book.

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