Entrepreneurs do not become successful by resting on their laurels. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance to get any business up and running smoothly. Setting a business up also does not end when you get it off the ground. It is a continuous process that you have to work on, so you can be assured of maintaining or keeping your competitive edge.
To be able to sustain this edge, one must develop competitive intelligence. What exactly is competitive intelligence? What exactly does it do? According to Entrepreneur.com, competitive intelligence is “the process of gathering actionable information on your business’s competitive environment.” In other words – it is the process of knowing what your competitors are doing, and making sure you find a way to respond to it to your advantage.
It may appear easy to get a scan of the competitive environment of your business, but it takes more than just a cursory glance. You need quality data so you can react accordingly and properly. So how do you do it? Here are some tips and tricks.
Identify What You Need to Know
What type of data are you looking for? Yes, you are looking for data on your competitors, but what exactly about them are you looking for? Find out what their unique selling proposition is. How do they market it? What is the logistics behind the business? What are their price points? Who are they targeting? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
You should also consider what type of competitors you are studying. Do you focus on direct competitors? You may want to also consider threats to your business that aren’t directly related to your brand.
Aside from your competitors and the threats, you also have to learn about your business environment. Everything in this world constantly shifts and changes and you need to be able to keep up with these. So it is best, that you have your eye on business trends, best practices and find out how you can apply these to your business. Are these opportunities for growth? Are these ways in to expand your reach? There are so many ways you can capitalize on data about your business environment. Make sure you have a good use for them.
Find Good Sources
You can’t just believe the first thing you see about your competitors. Sure, it can be very easy to do a quick search online about your competitors, but you have to make sure that you also get quality data. Make sure your sources are reputable. You cannot make decisions on information that is unreliable. You will most likely need to invest on websites that gather competitive intelligence, but these are good investments. Arming yourself with this information will give you the tools to fight against competitors encroaching on your market share. Defend your turf, always be vigilant and always be prepared to address any threats that come your way. These, you can do, by being informed about your competitors.
Spy on Your Competitors
To go beyond the usual public data that your competitors release to the media or to the general public, you need to get inside your competitor’s business to know for real what is happening. This doesn’t mean that you gather information in an unethical manner. All you need to do is get into your competitor’s business and observe how they do things. How do they treat their customers? How do they handle conflicts? Find a way to “spy” into their businesses. You will learn a lot in the day-to-day comings and goings.
Consolidate Data and Analyze
Now that you have all this data about your competitor and the threats around your business – what do you do with it? This is where the vital part comes in. You need to consolidate all of this data and do a deep analysis on your findings. How does it affect your business? Are their processes more cost-efficient than yours? Is there a way to counter their efforts to be more aggressive in the industry? The secret to developing competitive intelligence is knowing what to do with all the data you have gathered. Learn how to turn the findings into an advantage for your business. You have the power and the control to anticipate any setbacks from your competitors because you already have an idea on what they are doing. You can then set-up defense strategies in place. Or better yet, pre-empt their planned efforts and come out on top. Make use of the data you’ve gathered. They hold the key to being one step ahead of your competitors.
Do Not Get Distracted
Amidst all these efforts to gather data – you might lose sight of your objectives and goals. Don’t. Learn how to juggle several things simultaneously. Learn how to multi-task. Do not be overwhelmed by all of the tasks that you need to accomplish. Do not be distracted by all your efforts to learn about your competitors. You still have to focus on your business – making sure that you provide high-quality service or products, ensuring that your employees are well cared for and properly compensated, ensuring that your business continues to run smoothly at peak performance.
To better help you with this, learn to delegate. Assign specific tasks to individuals to ensure that things get done. Do not allow yourself to get stressed out or panicked. If you organize your thoughts – you will be able to accomplish a lot.