Learning from competitors: it’s a good idea - Rethink Central

Learning from competitors: it’s a good idea

by | Jul 4, 2012 | Networking

“By learning about your competitors – and getting along with them, you can improve your business, and the industry as a whole.”
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Do you find yourself scowling when you hear your competitor’s name?

Are you doing it when you see them in the same restaurant?

You’re not alone in this; many people see their competitors as the sore point in their profits.

The truth is that your competition is a lot more helpful than that. By learning about your competitors – and getting along with them, you can improve your business, and the industry as a whole.

Start by learning about your competition – all of it. Although you may operate in a niche market, have a look at anyone who overlaps with what you do, large or small. Sure they may be a national chain, but if you get a clear picture of everyone who sells a similar product, you can begin to identify opportunities to differentiate your service or product. Be realistic when assessing both what they do right and what you do better.

You can certainly learn a lot about your business and the direction it can grow by looking at the competition, but the best way to develop is to get to know them personally. You may not be comfortable ringing your direct competition out of the blue, so take advantage of networking sessions within your industry. Although you won’t go selling out your number one secret, sharing information is one way to ensure that everything in your industry runs smoothly, and above board.

If you are a small business, getting to know your competitors is a fantastic way to gain new business – and to cover yourself when you do take that long awaited holiday. After all, who better to assist a client with an emergency while you are out of town than someone on the ground who knows the answer? If you worry that your client will make a permanent switch, then you need to focus on developing the business your clients need and want.

Far from being a threat, the competition is usually a powerful way to identify:

1. The way forward in your business
2. The challenges faced by the industry as a whole
3. Other people you can recommend to clients you cannot assist.

Because most businesses specialise in a particular market or service, you may just find that you gain an entirely new set of clients who wouldn’t have found you if it wasn’t for a recommendation – from your competition.

Looking to learn from your competition? Investigate industry round table or networking events as a pleasant way to make contact with like-minded people. Have a look at our 5 tips for networking success Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone for a chat; everyone makes cold calls from time to time.

Still struggling to make contact? Check out our Mastermind groups, we may have just what need.

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This is part of Networking month on the Rethink Retreats blog. Read these other great posts:

Networking: 5 Tips for Success
Reassessing when times are tough
5 surprising foods for stamina at the office

And please share your thoughts below – we love to hear your tips.

 

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