So you’ve got a killer idea for a company. You’ve toiled and laboured over preparations to launch your new ‘baby.’ And you’ve got that good-as-gold gut feeling that this will propel you into entrepreneurial superstardom — Elon Musk better watch out! But just as you’re really getting into your bootstrapping groove, a competitor emerges. Not just any competitor mind you, one whose company looks, acts and sounds almost exactly the same as yours. Cue pin to balloon as you watch your enterprising dreams deflate.
But wait!…It doesn’t have to end here. Your company, your idea has true merit. And you can’t let yourself get disillusioned simply because the competition has reared its ugly head. If nothing else, starting your own business and seeing it through is about perseverance, it’s about gut, gumption, grit and any other “G” word you can think of.
There are things you can do and steps that you can take in order to make your business standout. Competition is healthy; it actually inspires you to be creative, get those outside-the-box juices flowing, and ultimately, position your company for real success.
Don’t Sweat The ‘New Kid on the Block’ Mystique
So your competitor is getting some traction—largely the result of the fact that they’re the new kid on the block, and “new” is generally exciting. While you’ve been at it for a bit, it seems that sales, in light of this development, are consequently slumping. What do you do? How do you combat the mystique that tends to surround that which is first launched into the digital universe or otherwise? The answer…you don’t. That is to say, you don’t try to compete directly with the impossible: newness. Instead you need to come up with an alternative strategy.
This is where the what-makes-me-different-and-thus-unique approach comes into play. While you may be direct competitors, odds are you are not exactly the same. What makes your venture special, and why does it stand out from the crowd? Really take an introspective look at your business and determine your ‘essentially-you’ assets. Once you identify these, play them up.
So they have a brand new company with a shiny new logo and a catchy, yet unheard slogan, counteract this with those elements of your company that differentiate you; create a campaign around this if you have to. It’s all about action and reaction. They emerge as the new kid, so you react to this by showcasing your business as the more unique of the two.
Just think beyond…Pretty simple advice, but incredibly important.
Let’s say for example you have a product. It’s stellar, it’s an original, it’s life-changing in some ways. But ultimately, it is confined to one specialised niche. Now, your competitor comes out with a very similar earth-shattering, groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind item. You two are thus locked in a head-to-head battle for supremacy in this one particular area. It’s time then to step outside of this product’s comfort zone.
Try and strip your product and/or service down to the basics…What relevant applications might it have for other types of niches? How can you broaden the scope of your company’s overall value? It is this type of innovative pivoting that is the mark of a business that “gets it.”
Stay Out of the Mud
Sure, the temptation here is to competition bash. We have all, at some point, probably engaged in the proverbial mudslinging, especially when it comes to defending and safeguarding our business. But trust me, this is not the best strategy. All this does is to make your venture seem the lesser of the two in terms of integrity, philosophy and values.
You want to rise above the fray; you want customers to understand your business as one that represents positivity and morality. Let them stoop to the name calling, the disparaging remarks and underhanded tricks—in the end, it will only help you to emerge as the victor.
Keep Calm and Stay on Course
This is perhaps the best piece of advice when it comes to dealing with a close competitor. It’s a big world out there and as such, there a lot of companies, a lot of similar companies. Maybe your idea is not the only one, maybe its originality is tinctured somewhat as a result of the emergence of a competing brand, but really all you can do is stay the course. Keep on keeping on, as they say :)
When you’ve put your heart and soul into a venture, you don’t give up simply because someone else has come out with a similar model. You persevere and you do what makes you special. Stay abreast of the competition’s strategies certainly; perhaps you can play off of these, or even learn something from them. Just make sure you stay true to yourself and your company!