Do you feel like larger competitors are getting the best of you?
Do you wish you had their resources, talent pool or sheer numbers? If so, don’t. Instead of focusing on your competitive have’s and have not’s it’s time to solidify your presence in the marketplace and work smart along the way.
But We Don’t Have Competition
In order to outsmart your competition, you’ll first have to acknowledge the fact that they exist. If you say to yourself, “I have no competition,” then you’re either blissfully ignorant of direct competition or you’re not considering alternate types of competitive threats — those that could easily pivot and stake claim to your market. If you’re thinking, “No one is doing it like us,” wrong again. Surely it is best to position yourself as unique, but that doesn’t imply that you don’t have competitors.
Outsmart the Competition
Outsmarting competitors has less to do with them and more to do with you. Outsmarting the competition is an “inside job.” Here are four key things every small business can do to outsmart the competition.
1. Get good at the details.
As a small business grows, oftentimes it is hard to remain diligent at the small details that made your startup great in the first place. When in doubt, get back to the details. Streamline and reduce inefficient processes, do small things that customers will appreciate, cut the fat from under-performing marketing campaigns, and track your progress. As Virgin Group business magnate Richard Branson suggests, “Most big ambitious goals are made up of [details] … the grand picture is made up of all those little details.”
2. Do what your competitors dare not.
Larger companies are slooooow to move. This is a key advantage that small businesses often don’t realize, until they are out-innovated by a competitor that should, in theory, move at a glacial pace.
Consider the operational, marketing, and customer service ties that bind your larger competitors and simply do things that either a) wouldn’t do or b) have a hard time doing. A competitor’s business model, organizational structure, management and other areas likely present large roadblocks to grassroots innovation. By generating more options, that are often very limited at a larger business, you can execute well. Which brings me to my next point …
3. Take a scientific approach to business.
By definition, science is a methodical process that seeks to determine the secrets of the natural world by using the scientific method — a process which determine the workings of the universe. This same method can be applied to your small business.
Instead of determining the workings of the world, your goal is to execute mini-tests to determine what works in your business. Simply observe, hypothesize, experiment, analyze, modify and repeat until you achieve desirable results. It’s highly unlikely that larger competitors can efficiently apply this method or move at a pace fast enough to keep up with an agile startup.
4. Refocus your imagination.
Imagine more. Steve Jobs once said, “I would rather gamble on our vision than make a ‘me, too’ product.” Any company can make a “me-too product”, but it takes vision and sheer imagination to do something differently. As Fab.com CEO Jason Goldberg suggests, blatant “knock-offs are bad design.” While concepts remain the same, your company’s imaginative execution will set you apart from the pack. Imagine the possibilities and dare to build differently.
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