Starting up a business and making a basic plan is only the very beginning of finding success. You still need to get long term finance plans in place, conquer a new market and ensure all the bills are paid before you even think about turning a profit or growing. A short-cut tht can really help, but isn’t easy to achieve, is to fully understand what your current competitors are doing.
This includes identifying areas where you can learn from their success, and areas where you can improve on their failings. Don’t immediately try to copy the strategies of similar businesses. Firstly, why would you be starting up yourself if that’s your only idea? Secondly, you need to identify who’s going in the right direction and who’s on the verge of driving themselves out of the market, leaving a space for you to occupy. There are a few different approaches you can take here.
Firstly, bear in mind there is plenty of free information online and in other easily available resources where you can find out detailed financial information about many companies. If your rival is a public firm, they’re required to publish details of their financial success, or lack thereof. This may not be easy for a novice to interpret, but you always have the option of hiring specialists to help with this. The problem here is that public information isn’t the most reliable, and there are typically plenty of details that remain undisclosed.
Alternatives may include getting some insider knowledge through another source. Ideally, this could be your own experience. If you’ve worked with or for a competitor in the past, hopefully you’ll have an understanding and insight into how they go about making money. If you’re not directly connected, find someone who is and get as much information as you can from them.
If you’re really lucky, you may be able to dig up information from the past about their strategy. Look for any features in magazines or newspapers about the company you’re interested in, any old promotional literature you can find, and even old versions of their website which you can access online. Compare how they describe themselves now with the older materials and look for things that have changed with their approach. This can give you a valuable insight.
Be sure not to focus too heavily on a single competitor, unless this is essential for entry into your chosen niche market. Generally you’re more likely to succeed if you look at the market as a whole and consider as many different scenarios as possible, so it’s logical to find varied competitors and learn more about their past strategies if you can. This will help you identify potential problems more quickly and give you a more complete understand of what you’re getting into. The more time and careful planning you can invest into the early stages of entering a market, the better chance you have of outperforming all those competitors as soon as your business finally takes off.