by Anne Day | Featured Contributor
When you are developing your business plan, there’s this whole section on the competition – who they are, what they do and what makes your offer different and of course, unique and special.
This market research is actually a good exercise to undertake and certainly as your business evolves, you can’t take your eye off the ball – you still need to know what your competitors are up to. However it can be a fine line.
I always remember a successful entrepreneur sharing her story of how as the “David” in her industry, she ended up taking over “Goliath” because he was so busy watching what she was doing (and trying to undermine her every step of the way) that he forgot to pay attention to what was happening in his own business, and it was tanking. End result? She took it over.
I know for myself when I started Company of Women I was the only game in town, but fast forward twelve years, and a plethora of groups for women have started. Some have come and gone, but I am sure there will be just as many new ones on the horizon.
So I keep a watchful eye on what they are offering and try not to clash date-wise with their plans and sometimes, we’ve partnered and worked together. But I find it interesting to observe how the others behave.
I guess you could say all is fair game in business. And maybe I’m just old school, but I wouldn’t, for example, dream of soliciting their members and these days with the anti-spam law in effect, they need to be careful.
With more and more women starting businesses, I prefer an abundance approach and given that each group offers something unique to its members, there are more than enough people out there looking for support. How much they will pay for it, is perhaps more the deciding factor.
Where it becomes dangerous is when you let your plans be dictated by what the competition is doing. They make a special offer and you feel you need to as well. They announce registration starts on a certain date, and you feel compelled to get your stuff ready earlier, just to be first to market.
Not a good idea. Trust me, I have been tempted to do all of the above, but fact is, your energy and time needs to be spent on what you want to do in YOUR business, not letting someone else’s business call the tune.
Launching your product ahead of your schedule just to be first out the gate, may backfire on you. Perhaps you’re not ready and not all the pieces or processes are lined up and running efficiently. You could be setting your business up to fail.
No, much better to make a plan and work on your own timelines, than have someone else’s schedule dictate what and when you do what you have to do. The key is to stay strong and focused on YOUR vision, YOUR plans and YOUR ideas because then you can honestly take credit for the success of your business.
As I am learning, the competition will always be there – oh, it will be different players – but bottom line, I believe in what we are doing and why we are doing it. We are making a difference in the lives of women – and that, at the end of the day, is what matters.
What about you? How much do your competitors influence what you do? Do you care or are you too busy managing your own stuff?
But she found working for yourself can be isolating and so eleven years ago she started Company of Women as a way to connect and support women entrepreneurs. Today the organization has six chapters across the GTA and beyond, and over 300 members. In 2009 she received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Oakville and the TIAW World of Difference award for her work in supporting women internationally. Over the years she has helped thousands of women grow professionally and personally through her programs, services and personal encouragement.
She is the author of three books, the most recent being Day by Day – Tales of business,life and everything in between. She is a regular business columnist with Huffington Post, and blogs for numerous other publications.