What is business competition?
Business competition is the process of companies and individuals competing in the same industry or field. This sort of competition applies to virtually all businesses and employees.
For instance, have you ever competed with a coworker for the same promotion? Signed a non-compete at a job? Even if you simply stopped using a competitor’s store, you were practicing business competition in your daily life.
While these situations may arise because of competition in the workplace, it’s important to remember “competition” isn’t necessarily negative. In fact, there are ways in which this idea can positively affect employees and companies alike.
Positive business competition
In order to understand positive business competition, consider how it might apply to you. Picture, for instance, that you’re about to interview for a position. You’ve dressed the part, done the research, and over-prepared in every way.
Well, almost every way. You weren’t prepared to sit beside another interview candidate—especially one interviewing for the same position. And you definitely weren’t prepared for the candidate to talk to you. In this type of situation, you must make a fast business decision. How will you engage your competition?
In all likelihood, you’ll be polite to the competing candidate, rather than combative. While you both want the same job, you know friendly conversation is more beneficial than outward aggression. Getting to know your competitor allows you to gauge their abilities and compare your strengths against theirs. (Also, politeness is just nice and can lead to more success.)
In the same way meeting another interview candidate can positively affect you, connecting with other businesses in your industry can be equally beneficial.
How connecting with competitors is good for business
While it may seem counterproductive to advertise a competitor’s site, this can actually be a surprisingly great way for your business to earn income.
You know the content is of interest to your users, and you can earn revenue with the ads. Advertising isn’t the answer for everyone, of course, but it can be a great choice for certain types of entrepreneurs and bloggers.
If you don’t already advertise on your site, consider signing up with Google AdSense, Google’s free resource that finds and applies the most relevant ads with the most earning potential. The resource is user-friendly, and there are plenty of online guides to help.
Placing ads on your site may be easier than you think, and in many cases, the ads may be for companies you believe to be competitors. That’s okay. You can earn income while still providing relevant content to your users.
Most growing businesses are looking to learn, but not all businesses are trying to learn from their competitors. You may find, however, your competition actually has a lot to teach you.
When it comes to your competition—especially heavy-hitters in the industry—study their websites, how they run their company, and how they treat customers. What aspects of their business work well? What could you improve?
Additionally, it’s important to remember that businesses, no matter how successful, are made up of normal, everyday people. Conferences and events are great places to meet people like yourself from competing businesses. While it’s unlikely anyone will be spilling company secrets, these opportunities can still provide incredible professional advice and wisdom.
Do you research. You can educate yourself through your competitors’ customer-facing content, as well as through their team. Use conferences and events to meet people from your industry, then take that opportunity to increase your knowledge.
In the same way competitors can educate you on success, they can also teach you about failure. Knowing information early may prevent common (possibly expensive) mistakes, or it may even help you create a plan for the future.
While it’s crucial to research competitors’ past mistakes, it’s also vital to look toward the future. New technology can cause entire industries to become obsolete, which means you should always be looking ahead. And sometimes “looking ahead” requires a close relationship with your competition.
You’ve probably heard the old proverb about enemies—how a common enemy can create a friendship. The same can be true for business competition.
We see this all the time, and not just in small business. Take, for instance, the recent merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. By merging, the companies will be able to compete with their common “enemies,” Verizon and AT&T. By interacting with competitors and focusing on industry threats, you may be able to find common ground and solutions.
No one will understand your unique problems the way a competitor can. Work together to prevent problems and brainstorm solutions for your industry.
Merging is one thing, but many companies would never dream of partnering with competitors for an event or project. However, this can actually be a clever way to gain exposure. And while “exposure” may seem like a bad word to ROI-seekers, it can actually be quite positive. Word-of-mouth popularity—it turns out—is the most valuable form of marketing.
What’s more, partnering with other companies in your industry is an opportune way to support causes you care about. We saw this with two Nashville ramen restaurants last spring, when they hosted a ramen showdown. The two restaurants raised money to support Sister Cities of Nashville, a popular volunteer organization.
This friendly contest allowed both restaurants to advertise an important charity, as well as gain exposure for their local businesses. Whether your company is brick-and-mortar or online, consider the ways in which you can partner with competitors to get the word out—and maybe even support a good cause.
Exposure is not the opposite of revenue; word-of-mouth is one of your most powerful marketing tools, so get the word out by partnering with a competitor and supporting a charitable organization.
We can’t discuss business competition without discussing good, old-fashioned healthy competition. Healthy competition encourages people to work harder because their colleagues and peers are inspiring them to innovate and improve.
Without healthy competition, you may have one business monopolizing an industry, which can lead to inferior products and exorbitant prices. Healthy competition between businesses encourages good customer service, quality products, and fair pricing.
By making positive connections with others in your field, you have a chance to assess the differences between you and your competitors. Why do their customers shop with them? Why do yours shop with you?
If you don’t have current data on your customers, send out a survey and get to know them. Pay attention to your traffic and traffic sources. This will allow you to learn about your consumers and build a brand curated just for them. These results will also allow you to take what’s working from competitors and adjust it for your unique customer-base.
Healthy competition is good for business and more importantly, good for consumers. Note what works for other businesses, then learn about your customers and apply that knowledge.
You don’t have to love your competitors, and in most cases, you probably won’t. However, business competition is a vital part of the contemporary workplace, both on an individual level and when it comes to large-scale industries.
By connecting with other businesses in your field, you can open yourself to financial, educational, and charitable opportunities. Plus, healthy relationships with other businesses can help your company grow and prosper. And who knows? You might even get ahead of the competition.
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Author: Kaitlin Westbrook