After creating a startup, it can take time and thought to find your place in the market. Outdoing the competition is a key part of being successful in business, but not everyone is driven by that competitive spark.
With so much of a business reflecting the individual personalities of those who run it, this can make a difference. Fostering a competitive spark without compromising your values can be a challenge, but it’s more than possible to cultivate a successful business without being ruthless – you simply have to define a strategy.
Know your competition
Before launching any startup, thorough market research is key. It’s easy to forget that this process continues to be important even once your business is up and running. By being aware of your competitors and their customer base, you can learn their weak spots and pour more resources into ensuring your own business performs better in these areas. Rather than using underhand or cutthroat tactics, you genuinely become the best in your field.
Have a database of your competitors, including what their unique selling point (USP) is, along with their target audience. If they do something well, consider the processes needed that make this happen. Perhaps they have an excellent staff training program, or source superior materials. With a strong brand and confident sense of what sets your business apart, you can mimic the successful “behind the scenes” tactics of other businesses without coming across as an imitation.
It’s also worth regularly checking out the social media channels of your competitors in order to bring your brand to the attention of followers with similar interests by way of your own digital marketing efforts.
Related: The Power of Competition in Business
Create a driven company culture
If you aren’t a particularly competitive person by nature, you run the risk of being left behind as more combative entrepreneurs aggressively drive their business forward. While there’s nothing wrong with being laid back, you must cultivate your own strengths and motivate yourself along the way.
For example, you can simultaneously increase productivity in your company while implementing corporate wellbeing practices. Treating your staff well and encouraging practices like meditation within your company (as companies like Apple, Nike and Google have done) can improve performance and reduce absenteeism, giving your small business an advantage that others may be missing. On a personal level, meditation also bolsters confidence and enhances your people management skills.
If a desire to be better (and make more money) than others in your industry doesn’t motivate you, think about the things that do. It may be a passion for the work you do, or the fact that you enjoy making organizational processes as efficient and effective as possible. Maybe you love fostering great relationships with your customers, or pour a lot of effort into creating a service or product of exceptional quality. Not only will this strengthen your unique selling point, it will naturally improve your business without a need for the “killer instinct” people sometimes assume is the key to getting ahead.
Measure your performance
At the time your startup is growing, and maybe even starting to make significant money, it can be tempting to neglect analytics in favor of the more pressing day-to-day needs of the business. However, performance and productivity are intangible concepts without a bank of numbers you can refer to, and putting your finger on exactly what’s working and what isn’t is impossible without them.
Tracking your performance provides critical knowledge and lays the foundation for observing long-term trends. There are plenty of tools at your disposal for this, whether it’s keeping an eye on your online efforts with programs like Google Analytics, or logging daily developments with thorough and up-to-date spreadsheets. Watching the numbers go up or down can sharpen your competitive instincts, compelling you to improve on last month’s performance with new ideas and initiatives that will help you grow.
Final thoughts on remaining competitive
The reality of entrepreneurship is that you will be in direct competition with others who wish to outperform your business, and when you are in the particularly vulnerable startup stage, getting the edge on more established competitors is hugely important.
Whether you are a competitive person or not, it’s possible to behave competitively through tactics such as committing to improving your performance month-to-month or identifying where other businesses are providing a lackluster service. Foster your competitive spark in whatever way most suits you, and you won’t be left behind.