Competition….. It can strike fear in even the greatest of business owners, the most successful of companies, and absolutely can set the cat amongst the pigeons for smaller and newer proprietors.
Maybe you opened a restaurant, cellar door, or small bar. You have a unique concept and a menu to cater to a different target market. Things are going really well, you can pay your staff, pay your bills on time, and even pay yourself a wage. The business has been building over the last 12 to 18months and it’s going really well, building a great base of regular customers and your hard work is paying off.
Then along comes a competitor, someone offering something just the same as you… They might as well have walked right in to your venue, replicated it, and dumped it nearby… When you find out, it make you sick to the stomach and now you’re worried about what that means for your business.
Unfortunately, competition is part and parcel of running a business, any business. But it doesn’t have to be a negative. You could spin the immediate thoughts of woe and see it as flattery that someone see’s all the good work you are doing and they want a piece of the action too.
It means you have a good product, and a product that has legs. So, after the initial shock subsides, it’s worthwhile taking a breath and firstly looking at how far you’ve come, and that you have a great product that someone wants to copy it.
Secondly, it’s always good to remember that what people see on the outside, the success of your growing business, takes more than just a little hard work behind the scenes. They don’t see the sweat and tears you’ve put in, the sleepless nights wondering how you are going to pay staff, pay the bills, let alone yourself and provide a consistent product each and every day. It’s hard work and not everyone is cut out for it, so you’ve got to admire those that take the ballsy move to get in to the game in the first place.
But the most important thing that direct competition can do for you and your business is something we should all be doing each and every day. Competition will push you, kicking and streaming to keep evolving your business, innovating, and to try new things that never allow your business to become stagnant.
I see business management and building a business as an ever-evolving process. You learn, you adapt, you change tact, and you plan. Having new competition that you see as a threat is a good thing. It makes you tighten processes, become more consistent in your offering and service, and makes you think innovatively about how you can adapt do things differently, and to do things better.
And that is the key opportunity that competition gives you. It allows you to continue to grow your business, forces you to refocus, and in turn makes you a better business owner. After all, you were the one in the first place who came up with the concept that someone is so eager to copy, so you are capable of doing it again.
There is always opportunity in every situation, good and bad, you just need to have an open mindset to see the opportunity. So, after you get over the initial shock of a new direct competitor, use this motivation to spur you on to do great things with your business.
Love to hear your thoughts.
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: