Most companies, businesses, non-profit organizations see the competition- the organization across the street with the same offering and think that it’s their worst enemy.
It’s not. A coffee house mushroomed in one street is a reflection of actual buyer/consumer interests. That means that there is a demand and continuing demand that needed to be satisfied. Take the cue from the competition that is very successful.
The competition will show you what is selling or not, what the market wants versus what you are offering. The competition will tell you that your services, products, or values are not well-articulated. It will tell you why you need to expand or contract or seek new markets. The competition that is doing well will tell you what practices work and what practices to abandon. What areas are not being serviced, what gaps in customer needs are not being met and what positioning can be done?
A good competition is a good source of information about what is coming around the bend, anticipating that changes can disrupt your business in many ways and that being a bystander of these changes will do you no good. You might be disrupted even before you know it.
Take the case of Uber that has disrupted the taxi cab businesses that have been there for generations. It has created a whole new sharing economy around the needs and interests of consumers who are also users and producers of these services. Do not be the taxicab operator that just woke up one day with a business valuation of less than $200,000.00!
Big box businesses have folded/ are folding up such as Sears, ToysRUs, Greyhound is discontinuing its operations except for Ontario and Quebec, and recently Macy’s might be next in line. These businesses have weathered many storms and remained very strong contenders in the retail market and transport market for years and years. Sears started with a catalog market and became one of the best-preferred retailers for middle-class buyers. Not anymore.
While the middle-class-targeted retailers are folding up, lower buyer segment markets are generating newer and more stores such as Red Apple and Giant Tiger are taking up empty retail space that has been vacated. There is always an opportunity if you can look closer at the changes that are taking place.
Innovation is the stuff that we strut about but rarely understand. It is not a magical moment where executives of Apple just figured it out today. It is a methodical, integrated, and disciplined approach to finding opportunities, studying opportunities for its potentials and risks, and pursuing opportunities to take the business to the next level of competitiveness and profitability.
Is your business merely surviving, beating up the competition, or dominating the space? Do not sacrifice the future of your company in the altar of today’s successes. Learn from the competition and innovate continuously.
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