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How to handle the competition

10 August 2011 6 CommentsBy Sarah Shaw

"If you follow yourself you don't have any competition" – anonymous woman on the street.

This one sentence sparked a fabulous dinner conversation a couple weeks ago.  It is something I often used to fret about when I started my first handbag line, but in the end I really didn't see them as competition, just other designers doing different things.  It wasn't until a major designer copied my signature bag that I felt the wrath of competition swell – which was healthy – and a good reminder that I wasn't bullet proof.

We all have moments of fear (fleeting as they may be) relating to our competition and wonder how they are doing it differently, the same, worse or possibly better than you are. And there are those of us who never think about it, or just plain ol' don't care what they are doing as it wouldn't make a difference to you.

These days I take a good look at my competition to see what I can learn about myself.  I strive to be better, stronger, faster just like you and don't always have the answers. I reached out to my Entreprenette experts who offer some great tips like looking at competitors forums and solving those problems in your business, emphasizing what sets you apart, checking keywords, and back-links  to see if you should use them too, and most importantly to remember there is room for all of us!

Check out their great tips.  Love to know what you do too.  If you want to share your smarts with me, become an Entreprenette expert by clicking here.

1. Ignore Them!

My Competition?: At the end of the day, it's on you to make your business successful. Obsessing over your competition in lieu of building your brand and generating revenue is an easy way to crash a company. Obviously any business can learn from their competitors but know when to draw the line. Your success is completely separate from any other company and it's on you to make your company the best it can be.
Thanks to: Anthony Adams of Foundation Repair DFW.

2. Stay Focused!

My Competition?: While it is important to keep one eye on the competition, do not let it take away your focus, which should be on your business! I find too many entrepreneurs get caught up in the fight against the competition instead of spending time being innovative and creative with their own business. It is important to stay focused and work at establishing your business as the leader.
Thanks to: Christy Cook of Teach My.

3. Let Them Do the Leg Work

My Competition?: When starting a new business, you can learn a lot about proven successful marketing techniques by inspecting your competition's advertising strategy. This is especially true of older competitors who have obviously been doing something right over the years from a marketing perspective. Check out their website, get your friend's opinions on what they like about it, and make it your own. They've already done the hard part for you and you get free marketing advice.
Thanks to: Pam Pennington of Houston Chimney Sweep.

4. Get to Know Them

My Competition?: No two firms are the same, and I'm a big believer in getting to know your competition. When I started my company, I reached out to those that have been doing the same thing for a while to introduce myself, find out their specialties and even ask advice. And believe it or not, they were happy to oblige. Now, that I've been in business for 2 years, I consider many of my competitors friends, and we even refer business to each other when it's a better fit. There's no reason to be adversarial!
Thanks to: Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk of BBR Marketing.

5. When they ZIG, You Must ZAG!

My Competition?: On a regular basis we take all clippings (ads, direct mail, media mentions, promotions/coupons, press releases, etc) across all competitors and tape them on the wall - rearranging & finding patterns/clusters around various differentiators.

This helps us to keep fine-tuning the niche spaces we want to own in our offerings & messaging to the marketplace.
Thanks to: Kenny Jahng of Big Click Syndicate LLC.

6. Keep an eye on competitors

My Competition?: Since the Baby Dipper bowl is patented, and also just for curiosity, I keep an eye on my competitors. I know that I cannot (yet) compete with the big companies on volume, but my product's uniqueness in the market is something to carefully watch out for.
Thanks to: Barbara Schantz of Baby Dipper, LLC.

7. Be Yourself!

My Competition?: I rarely pay attention to what others in my field are doing. I try to be as unique and original as possible, I don't want to be subconsciously influenced other's designs. Occasionally I will search the web for trends but I don't really focus on any one particular designer so that I can truly offer a unique product with MY spin on a general theme. Sometimes competition can be an undermining factor if you let it throw off YOUR game,I like to use other's work to spur me on to be the best I can be.
Thanks to: Heather Niziolek of Goosie Girl Boutique.

8. Do the Opposite

My Competition?: Research your competition for any holes or weak areas in terms of services offered. Can you dominate a niche within your industry that your competitors under-serve or don't offer at all? Don't be just another also-ran in your industry, do the opposite of what your competition is offering and become a best-of in a new niche or micro-industry.
Thanks to: Gabe Graham of Oriental Rugs Boston.

9. Competition...a Good Thing.

My Competition?: Your competition is a great resource. Keep tabs on what they're doing with their business that seems to be working and what doesn't seem to work so well.

Definitely try to set yourself apart from them though because if they're doing so well why would customers purchase from you instead of the tried and true? I think a little competition makes us work harder and keeps us on our toes.

It makes sense sometimes for competitors to join forces or help one other. Generosity = Good Karma!
Thanks to: Karen Bullard of Paper Fancy.

10. Can't beat them; Join them

My Competition?: As an Entrepreneur, I believe you not only monitor them, join them and learn from them through their triumphs and mistakes.
Thanks to: LaVonya Reeves of Reboundlovers.com.

11. Competitors can help you grow

My Competition?: I used to fear my competitors, but not anymore. I decided one day that I can learn a lot from others who do what I do. Instead of worrying about who does what better. I started to contact my competitors and ask how I can help them. This lead to referrals, joint ventures and strategic partnerships. I have found that collaborating instead of competing allows me to let go of the worry and do what I do best. What happens is amazing. Now my business gets more exposure and is growing nicely.
Thanks to: Janet Majoulet-Foust of The Social Media Queen.

12. Find Out what Sets You Apart!

My Competition?: My One best tip on how to handle the competition is stay focused on what you are tasked to do. There is no other business like yours in the world because there is no other person like you in the world. Only monitor your competition from the stand point of finding out the unique characteristics that your business has to offer that sets you apart from all of the rest. Magnify and market those rare qualities to the specific audience that has an interest in the attributes that your business offers.
Thanks to: Kevin Benton of Kevin Benton Ministries.

13. Give a hug, Get Ahead

My Competition?: Let's face it-there will always be competition. Know who they are, pay attention to their product & then turn around & focus on being true to yourself. Let it push you, not discourage you. I spend time consulting other aspiring designers because I believe embracing the competition is more productive. There's value in artists (or entrepreneurs) supporting artists & I believe that there's room for many of us to succeed. The more we share the more we learn. So go ahead- give 'em a hug & get ahead.
Thanks to: Michelle Watson of Mimi & Lu.

14. What competition?

My Competition?: You can't worry about competitors - it's a waste of time and energy. There are always going to be people providing products and services that are similar to yours, and some of them will do an excellent job. That's great! There's room for everyone. Keep an eye on competitors, of course, but put your time and effort into making your products and services as good as you possibly can. Focus on being the best, and let your competitors spend their time worrying about you.
Thanks to: Judy Schramm of ProResource.

15. Make Friends

My Competition?: Despite the current gloomy economic conditions, there is still plenty of work to go around. If you run a service business, consider partnering with competitors. It's not uncommon to find a competitor willing to work jobs you cannot get to and vice versa. You also learn more about your industry. I'd rather partner with one or two competitors, pool resources, and let everyone benefit than try to get to the top on my own!
Thanks to: Terry Jones of DK Electricians of Dallas.

16. If You Can't Beat Them...

My Competition?: Join Them...
While we monitor our competition to see what they are doing, we generally do this to find like minded business (ie., our competition in a lot of cases) to partner with. We feel that there are more than enough customers to go around so the more we partner with businesses the better we make our brand and services. By partnering with our competition we create unique service offerings and a complete suite of products to better serve our customers.
Thanks to: Dreama Lee of Efficient Enterprises, Inc..

17. Be Aware, But Stay True to You

My Competition?: Be aware of your competitors – take note of their successes and failures, their marketing strategies and tactics, their branding and culture. Cultivate awareness around what they've got going on, then do what is true to yourself and your brand. Don't emulate other similar businesses. Marketing from a place of authenticity will draw the right people to you.

Remember that there is enough business for everyone, and your ideal customers won't be your competitors' ideal customers!
Thanks to: Eryn Willard of Inside Story Out.

18. Set Up Alerts & Get their News

My Competition?: I don't spend a lot of time monitoring the competition. I keep my tabs on them by setting up google alerts on them and also signing up for their newsletters. That way the scoop on them gets into my inbasket without too much fuss on my part.
Thanks to: Bola Ajumobi of Slimy Bookworm.

19. Capitalize on their mistakes

My Competition?: As an entrepreneur a small business has to learn how to compete with their competitors. How I handle my competitors is watch what they do and capitalize on their mistakes, there are many businesses that do what we do, but it is the service that the companies don't provide is what we have capitalized on. Watch the marketing trends and how your consumer is getting their information, watch your competition and use their mistakes to your advantage.
Thanks to: Eula M. Young of Griot's Roll Film Production.

20. Focus: Customers

My Competition?: I was once told that I can focus on my competition or my customers. I realize there can be value in keeping your eye on your competition but I choose to focus on our customers. I feel that if we are meeting their needs then our focus is in the right place.
Thanks to: Heather Ledeboer of Mom 4 Life.

21. Be Proactive Not Reactive!

My Competition?: You shold have an idea of what your competition is up to so you can see where you measure up and exceed what they are doing. As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But you also don't need to obsess over your competition. You should be aware, but primarily focus on your own unique passion and business offering. Focusing too much on your competition will in the long run stifle your own creativity. It is always preferable to be proactive rather than reactive!
Thanks to: craig wolfe of CelebriDucks.

22. Don't Compete - Unite

My Competition?: Whatever you do, don't compete. I say join forces and work together to focus on what each of you do best. Look for ways to comarket that saves both of you time, effort and money. This will allow you to bring out the very best of each individual business has to offer.
Thanks to: Lauri Flaquer of Saltar Solutions.

23. What Makes You Different?

My Competition?: There may be hundreds of companies that provide the same service you do,but just as no two people are alike, no two companies or small business owners are alike. That's a bingo opportunity for you to capitalize on what makes you different.Is it your winning customer service,follow up after an order,making an unexpected phone call to a client before a big event? Is it giving more than expected,or just your passion at work? Always make it a point to stand out and be bold in a crowded marketplace.
Thanks to: Robin Samora of Let's Make You Shine .

24. I keep my frenemies close

My Competition?: I see competition as colleagues -- those that do what I do but not enemies. Compeition let's you know that you're offering a service customers want, which is great market research. I keep an eye on the top companies in my field, monitor what they offer, and then differentiate myself compared to them. But, I would have a cup of coffee with anyone of them. Your competition understands you better than anyone else.
Thanks to: Christine Pembleton of Pembleton Consulting.

25. Don't fear your competitors

My Competition?: Competition is normal. If someone's already in your niche, that's evidence of an existing market--which is what you want.

See what your competition does well, what they do poorly, and how you can differentiate yourself from them. Emphasize the unique value you provide.

Don't get caught up in copying your competitors. Products and services that aren't differentiated end up competing on price, and that's a losing strategy. People pay more for unique products that give them value.
Thanks to: Greg Miliates of StartMyConsultingBusiness.com.

26. Who are they?

My Competition?: First of all, it is critical to know WHO your competition is. In my industry it is just as likely my competition is the homeowner as the next organizing company down the street. It is good to know what your competition is up to but this strategy will leave you playing catch up. You are an entrepreneur for a reason, if you seeking the best way to serve your target market then what your competition is doing will be less of an issue. In many industries there is enough room for everyone.
Thanks to: Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions Organizing.

27. Discover Their SEO Secrets

My Competition?: Want to outrank your competitors in the search engines? Everything you need to know can be found on their sites. Learn what keywords your well ranked competitors are targeting by going through their content and on page links. Then use a backlink checker to see who is linking to them (these are sites that may want to link to you too!) The idea is not to copy exactly what your competitors are doing, but to use what you learn from them to improve your site and start seeing top rankings of your own!
Thanks to: Jennifer Kirkpatrick of Pipsqueak Boutique Baby Gifts.

28. Don't FEAR or REVERE

My Competition?: As a marketer, I'm all about sussing out the competition. It's crucial to know where your competitors stand in order to understand where your opportunities lie. But putting them up on a pedestal; comparing yourself to them or copying them? No way! Doing things totally differently is a great way to let your biz shine unique.

And also? Don't fear the competition. You never know when you might be able to work together or get referrals. Think of yourselves as compatriots, not competitors.
Thanks to: Martina Iring of Small Business Bliss.

29. Don't Dream to Be #2

My Competition?: If I am too busy following someone else,I may just miss the genius I could have come up with on my own. I get inspired by looking at leaders in OTHER industries and fields and see how I can use their tactics to propel my business into the future.If you are too focused on your competitor, you miss opportunity,and the ability to be unique, diverse and create your own niche. Besides it’s all about the customers, figure out what they want,not what someone else is trying to feed them.
Thanks to: Nicole Bienfang of www.nicolebienfang.com.

30. Personalized Cartering Service

My Competition?: Constantly worrying about your competition will drive you crazy.
You need to be secure with your own unique selling proposition.
Offer what your competition doesn't.
If you are constantly changing your business because of what your competition is doing your clients will start getting confused with what your business is and what it has to offer.
Just be aware of your competition in order to stay competitive.
Thanks to: Roman Petrack of Kangaroo Catering.

31. Nail & Hammer Your Difference

My Competition?: The most essential key to effectively dealing with competitors is separating your business from others. Discover why you stand out and why customers want your business rather than others. This must be a value to the customer and something your competitors are not or cannot claim. Yes, this may seem limiting but it does not stop you from selling other things. You can only be known for one thing by customers, not 3 or 5. Find your brand's differentiating value and hammer it in all communications.
Thanks to: Ford Kanzler of Marketing/PR Savvy.

32. You Have No Competition

My Competition?: In our world we have no competition. That does not mean there are not competitors, but once you understand what THEY do and how they do it, fuggetaboutit. Don't try to undersell them; find out how you are different and make sure your audience understands that.

Many business people try to "beat" everyone else. No two Realtors, hair stylists, chiropractors or accountants are the same. So the challenge is to research WHAT your competition does, survey your clients, and articulate the True You.
Thanks to: Norm Bour of OPIS Network.

33. Share the Love!

My Competition?: Illustrators should always find opportunities to give online praise to their competition. This is more self serving than it sounds. Most websites allow for at least one url attached to your message. Use that for your own website. Since your name and website will appear on many other artists websites, or review sites, your name goes up in relevance on the search engines! Now you have made lots of friends and made the competition work for you at the same time.
Thanks to: Johnny Atomic of League Entertainment.

34. Preparing for battle

My Competition?: "Run your own race" is my business partner's favorite phrase for good reason. If you're constantly being reactionary, you put yourself in a less dominant, less influential position. You can have market dominance by just focusing on delivering the best product or service you can. Each little win that is something your competitors will try to mimic. String a few of these together and the entire industry knows who's the leading innovator in your space.
Thanks to: Brennan White of Pandemic Labs.

35. Shoot them in the butt!

My Competition?: In my business, we're often competing with an entrenched provider. So we "shoot them in the butt!".

Customers often take our proposal & try to get a deal with their existing vendor. We ask them "You're going to call & ask them to match our prices/services, right? How will it feel if they immediately match our proposal?" The customer says, "I'll be ticked"! We then ask "why?". This helps create their personal reason to cancel & we give them a script to cancel with the old vendor.
Thanks to: Michael Bremmer of Telecomquotes.com .

36. The Competition Cannot Compete

My Competition?: Very little competition existed before we started, and most competition popped up after we launched, but in a fly-by-night type of way. Many closed down soon after, and the ones that are still left, we feel they cannot compete on content, data, or customer service. Even now, some of our competitors are infringing our intellectual property, and we have every intention to go after them. We monitor our competitors from time to time, and we still have the best content out there.
Thanks to: Ian Aronovich of GovernmentAuctions.org.

37. Fill in the "Blanks"

My Competition?: Don't worry about trying to compete flat out on every level. Instead focus on what you know you do well-and DO IT. Then focus on what your competition is NOT doing well, and do that BETTER. It's much easier initially to do a better job at what others do badly, than to try and outdo what they are already excelling at.
Thanks to: Denise Herman of Empire of the Dog, Inc..

38. Coop-etition

My Competition?: I'm a business coach. What I have done is collaborate with other coaches to present joint workshops and seminars so we could leverage each other's database and clearly position what we do relative to each other. We've had such success with this model that we've expanded it to produce and promote a full day conference with eight other coaches and consultants. Again focusing on leveraging multiple databases to expand attendance and position ourselves as local experts. Coop-etition at its best!
Thanks to: Greg DeSimone of FocalPoint Coaching.

39. Blue Ocean Strategy

My Competition?: The way to move ahead of your competition is to make them irrelevant. Find a need of your potential market that no significant competitor is able to meet. The need must be something the customer needs, is quantifiable, and has significant value to the customer. This is usually not a direct quality of your product or service. It is usually found in the method of delivery or method of payment. Maybe you deliver faster with a guarantee, or on time with penalties for lateness. A true Blue Ocean.
Thanks to: Jeffrey Schraeder of Goldratt Consulting.

40. Competition Does Not Exist

My Competition?: There is no such thing as competition. Over the last five years as an entrepreneur, I have used what are seemingly competitive situations as opportunities of collaboration. There is enough business to go around. Competitors are allys, if you choose to. I have leveraged my "competitors" as partners and created incredible success along the way; we capitalize on strengths and the clients win every time. As small businesses, this is the best way to grow and prosper!
Thanks to: Jacqueline Camacho of JJR Marketing.

41. Focus With Obsession: A Niche

My Competition?: Don't handle competition, eliminate thru differentiae. Be the first at what you do by strategic positioning, the leader, & focus with obcession on a niche

It's unwise for small business to make enemies early times. i.e, if you wanted to start a women's magazine like "Elle", don't copy their format. Make sure your magazine has a strong trait that is uniquely yours

Specializing in the Australian, Asian, or European fashion brands might allow your product to stand out from the crowd
Thanks to: Glen Naughty of Mighty Fleiss Radio.

42. Solve their Users' Complaints

My Competition?: When I got started in my first business, I had a huge competitor that I knew I couldn't go head to head with. So instead I scoured their forums for complaints their users had, and decided to solve those problems with my business. This way, rather than competing with them directly, I went after the market they chose to ignore, allowing us both to succeed.
Thanks to: Adarsh Menon of Winning Stack.

43. Take the high road

My Competition?: We have a sound marketing strategy and positioned ourselves to keep ahead of the curve. By being prepared to change gears, we avoid getting stuck in a groove and avoid predictability.
We Study the competitor's moves and then throw them a curve. As they're reeling, we're ready to roll out the next one.
By offering a superior quality service that exceeds the customers expectations. We have branded ourselves and do not fear the opposition. If we can't help someone, we'll find someone who can.
Thanks to: Jenny Barber of Right at Home.

44. KO Your Buisness Competiton.

My Competition?: 5 Strategies To Handle Business Competition

1. Find your niche, and own it.
2. Learn from what larger companies are doing.
3. Develop a partnership. How can you both benefit from each other?
4. Start local. Build your customer base in your local community.
5. Get involved in your local community.

Competition encourages creativity and innovation. Study your competition, and get to know them. Be proactive in handling business competition, and you will be successful.
Thanks to: Daron Pressley of ThePremierAthlete.com.

45. Respect your Competition

My Competition?: Papa Plumbing has always believed in embracing and cultivating friendships with our competition. In the last 15 years, we have never asked to see a competitors quote nor have we talked negatively about the competition to potential customers. In this aggressive industry, Papa believes that there are plenty of jobs out there for everyone. It is better to gain respect of your competition by being honest and fair with them. This ultimately leads to overall success and trust in the marketplace.
Thanks to: Joy Chandna of Papa Plumbing, Heating & Drainage .

46. Look Beyond the Obvious

My Competition?: During the early stages of building my company, I monitored the obvious aspects of my competitors such as pricing and customer policies. These things are important, but now I look beyond the obvious to monitor things that will truly make a difference. How do my competitors interact with their customers? How do they treat their employees? By focusing on positive relationship building with my customers and employees, I channel my energy into my company and never lose sleep over the competition.
Thanks to: Allison Boyd of Metro Music Makers, Inc..

47. Use Competition for Success

My Competition?: I love my competition! I use a google doc to keep track of my competitors and, once they are on my list, I watch them, follow them, join their list, check out their products - whatever it takes to get to know them. Getting involved with my competition keeps me from operating my business in a vacuum where I am only learning from myself. By keeping up with them, I can learn and grow, and make my business truly competitive.
Thanks to: Katalina McMichael of katalinaonline.com.

48. Best Friends with Competitors

My Competition?: I don't just keep track of my competition; I make friends with them. I work hard to get new audiences interested in the services I and my competitors offer, leading to work for all of us — and done correctly, it means that my competitors are working just as hard to expand our market. That way we all benefit.

Teaming up on case studies, white papers and so on can be the easiest starting point, provided you've already managed to make friends. That's just one opportunity to team up, though!
Thanks to: Thursday Bram of Hyper Modern Consulting.

49. Competition is Good

My Competition?: Don't let your competition keep you from your goals, instead use your competition to go above and beyond. Have confidence in yourself and don't compare, no two are alike. Competition is good as it keeps us on our toes. People get caught up in the competition and lose sight of their own goals. That is why they fail, not because of the competition. So use your competition to help you succeed and not fail!

Remember: you are their competition as well.

Thanks to: Michelle Morton of Michelle Morton.

50. Don't just co-exist!

My Competition?: In the world of meat snacks, there are two 1,000 lb gorillas. As a new and edgy entrant, it’s important to monitor price and value relationships, but not to your footprint for success and co-existence. Fit the category; build points of difference, package to your demographic. The pulls from early adopters build brand and great word of mouth interest. To some they are meat sticks, to DNA Brand customers they are Shred Stix in bold delicious flavors. Who wants to eat a gorilla anyway!
Thanks to: Jimmy Hawkins of DNA Brands Inc. .

51. Test the Competition

My Competition?: Pretend to be a prospective customer of your competitor. Call them on the phone and inquire about their products or services. See if they engage you in conversation or just throw information at you. Ask them about pricing. See if they ask for the sale or let you go without trying to gain your business. You'll probably hear things that you can use or lose in your conversations with prospective customers. The customer experience is often the only differentiator. Make sure yours is better!
Thanks to: Randi Busse of Workforce Development Group, Inc..

52. Watch Your Back

My Competition?: Knowing exactly what your competition is up to gives business owners such insight on their industry. Being oblivious to your competition is quite frankly a rookie move. Nothing good ever comes from burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best. Knowing exactly what everyone in your industry is up to will give you an edge. Stay in the loop, stay current, stay informed.
Thanks to: Robin Feltner of Supernatural Botanicals .

53. Help each other out...

My Competition?: A lot of times people think that they need to be in direct competition with each other when they can help each other out. For example, do a joint PR campaign; it can save you money (especially in today's times).
Thanks to: Matt Butler of ROLLORS.



  • Marnie said:

    Like so many of your experts, I partner with my competitors aoap. When we bought our restaurant, the 1st thing I did was to go and borrow something from each other other restaurants in my neighborhood. This opened the door to great relationships and we still help each other out whenever we need it. Be a team player!

  • Robin Feltner said:

    Fantastic article! I love getting everyone’s individual take on their competition. So informative and interesting. And thanks, Sarah, for featuring me, #52.

  • Nicole Bienfang said:

    Thanks to all 52 who submitted your two cents on this topic. I learned a lot from you. There were quite a few things mentioned that I need to keep in mind when I branch out into other businesses in the future. May you sharing your wealth of information bring wealth back to you!

  • Glen Naughty said:

    Cool, thats alot of advice

  • Martina Iring said:

    Lovin’ all this great advice here! Thanks for including me Sarah :)

  • It's All About Competition or Is That Coopetition said:

    […] from The Entreprenette Gazette from the article: How To Handle The Competition by Sarah […]

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