Do you ever look at all the competition from bigger companies in your sector and wonder what you’re doing challenging them? Or maybe you’re thinking of expanding into a new area and realise someone else seems to have cornered the market.
Or do you look at the competition and think “So much the better”?
Cornering the Market?
We can all think of industry sectors where a few huge companies (or even one) have the market wrapped up. The big four supermarkets are an example, or the giant fast food brands (McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC). Why would anyone start a business that tries to compete with them?
But they do. Small supermarkets and corner-shops can be found in every town in the country, as can independent fast food outlets. Not all of them succeed, of course, but plenty do, in spite of the “impossible” competition.
Competition Is Good
It all depends on how you look at competition. Instead of being afraid of it, you can see it as proof that there’s a demand for what you’re offering. It’s simply up to you to get a share of that demand.
Some sectors actually thrive on competition. If you were opening an antiques shop, for instance, where would you rather position it — in an obscure high street, or somewhere people already come for antiques?
A Californian company called Starline Tours, for instance, has been operating since 1935, offering tours of Beverly Hills to see the homes of the stars. Until recently, they had an effective monopoly, but today there are a number of competitors — the ones who weren’t afraid of challenging Starline’s dominant position.
Adding Individual Value
The secret to competing with established companies is to offer something different. This could be a specialised niche — like Starline’s competitors, most of whom have found a unique angle. Or it could be a style. The successful corner-shop, for instance, thrives on being seen as local and personal, and owners play to those strengths rather than trying to be a second-rate Tesco.
I’m in an industry where there’s plenty of competition, and I’m not naïve enough to doubt that some of the competition is extremely good. What I have, though, besides working hard to maintain the highest possible quality in the services I offer, is my individual style. It’s something my regular clients seem to value and allows me to keep their loyalty.
Competition is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity. If someone else can make a success of the industry, so can you.