The business world is a ‘jungle’ where only the strong survive, there is always a new product alternative to yours competing for the same market. With the increase in the levels of innovation all around the world, the use of ICT even in Africa is on the increase, therefore there is a need for any thriving company to be in a continuous state of self-re-invention and development. Companies are constantly under pressure to keep one eye on their operations and the other on their competition. To use a footballing phrase, you have to keep one eye on the ball and another on your opponent.
It is important to note that, as much as it is important to look out for your competitors, it is important to not get carried away with what they are doing and then start feeling inferior as an organization. One man once said to me, when you decide to venture in the world of business, be ready to be aggressive, it is survival of the fittest. It should be made mention here, that competition is a necessary ‘evil’ as it help keep companies from being complacent.
How then do you deal with competition? The first thing is to accept your competition, as much as you are fighting for the same market with your competitors, there is always something you can learn from them. They will also keep you constantly on your toes to innovate and develop as a company. Discomfort is a good fuel for innovation, when competitors start to gain ground on your market at your expense, then you will be forced to up your game. However, it should never come to the point where you start losing your market hence the writing of this article.
It is important to understand your market, create a relationship with your market with continuous interchange of information on how the product or service is meeting their needs, how their needs have changed and how their needs can be met differently. A company that better understands and creates a stronger rapport with its customers will outlive its competition. There are consumers that attach value to a brand; this is the image of the producer, their track record and relationship with its consumers. There are also consumers that attach value to the price of a good or service, these people think, the more expensive something is, the more authentic it is. Then there are those that attach value to the packaging, these will buy based on how a good or service is packaged. It is important for a company to understand your market and see how you can meet the value needs of all these customers at once.
“It is the little foxes that spoil the vines”. Watch out for those things that other companies may over look such as customer care, public relations, presentation and the state of your offices or outlets. Do not get carried away with the big things and forget those little details. It is also essential to keep the workers happy and motivated. Your workers are you greatest apostles, your ambassadors spreading the good news about your product. However, if your workers are unhappy in the working environment, that reflects badly on the image of the organization.
You can as a company measure your level in a market by the capacity of your competitors. Like the saying goes, “a lion is not bothered by the opinion of a sheep”. However, if the opinion of the sheep starts to bother the lion, then the two are becoming equals. You are only as far up as an organization as the issues that shake your position. For a startup, once you see the bigger companies taking notice of what you are doing then you are gaining ground. For a big company, once the activities of small companies start threatening your niche position then they are catching up on you. Constant re-invention is the lifeline of any company in today’s world.