Regardless of your business’ size, shape or sector, researching and knowing about the competition is vital. Even if you prefer to do your own thing by focusing on internal operations, not paying attention to the movements of industry rivals can have devastating consequences.
Small Business Competitor Research
How small business should research its competitors? Several small businesses might be reluctant to conduct in-depth research about its competitors, as it has the potential to use up a lot of time and money. However, entrepreneurs or enterprises with even the tiniest budget can still unearth what opponents are up to and change their own plan of action accordingly, even by using free available business research tools out on the Internet.
A small business competitor research ranges from searching the Internet and browsing social media to carrying out surveys and looking through the records of major institutions like the Companies House (part of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills) there are numerous research avenues to walk down. What’s more, you may end up being more successful than much larger organisations if you discover and use your new found business information in the right way.
Why you should research the competition
- To differentiate yourself – There is a good chance that competitors are selling very similar goods and services to your own business’ offerings. You can go down the obvious route and provide products of a higher quality or promise to beat rivals on price, but through comprehensive research it is possible to differentiate yourself in more unique ways. Could you focus on a particular niche or speciality? Does your business provide something that others don’t? What is your unique selling point?
- To understand current trends – Concentrating on your own business is all well and good, but if you’re not keeping tabs on current trends or have lost track of what customers are interested in, your business will probably fail. See how your competition has reacted to the latest developments in the industry and act accordingly.
- To provide the best product or service possible – You may think that your current product portfolio or service list is as good as it can be, but your rivals might be delivering a much higher standard. Researching the competition keeps you alert and pushes you to work harder.
How you should research the competition
- Search the Internet – Nowadays it is possible to discover an abundance of facts and figures about your rivals online. From the company website to their social media profiles, explore every single channel or platform and monitor their announcements, product news and customer interactions. If their social media activity is receiving lots of likes and shares, find out why and work on your own outbound communications.
- Speak to people – There is no reason why you can’t speak to existing customers or even your competition directly to gather valuable information. Ask your customers what companies they have dealt with previously and why they decided to choose you. Call up your rivals and see what they are willing to reveal. If the question is phrased correctly and in the right context, they’ll probably give you a useful answer. Just remember to act in a lawful manner.
- Contact impartial organisations – As mentioned previously, certain institutions make plenty of information available to anyone, so take advantage of this. However, you can also contact suppliers, trade associations and recruitment agencies to unearth various data. Specific facts about rivals may not come to fruition, but you’ll no doubt be in a stronger position for exploring every option at your disposal.
So even if your small business is operating in an industry that isn’t very competitive, researching the activity of rivals remains vitally important and is often easier than you think.