What other solutions are out there? Who is your competition? It is important to consider the competition to your business in the context of the other elements discussed in this series of blogs. When you are thinking about competition we encourage you to really think about the problem that is being solved, not just settle on what the obvious competition might be.
Let’s talk burgers…
A great way to start to consider your competition and how it fits into your proposition is to look at how other businesses have tackled theirs. Let’s use McDonald’s as an example and discuss their proposition. They are a huge, well-known, global chain and so a great example to use.
When you start to look at the problem that the people have that visit a particular restaurant, whatever the chain, you’ve got to think about the people themselves. What is the problem each restaurant is trying to solve? McDonald’s is a convenient, cheap, cheerful fast food outlet and Burger King is therefore one of their most obvious competitors as it offers the same in theory. They both offer a quick solution and are very popular for this reason. This doesn’t mean that other burger vendors out there don’t stand a chance however. Not all people pride these qualities over others, and if they do, certainly not all the time. People therefore still require different solutions to different problems when it comes to getting a burger.
Burger Vendors must dig really deep to see where they can fit into the market. Are people looking for cheap and cheerful fast food? Can you solve people’s problems with a local burger place? Do certain people just really love burgers? If they are real burger lovers then this is a slightly different way to think about the problem. A higher quality burger would most probably solve their problem better. Perhaps a local diner or bar supplies great quality. Thinking about the people, you might start to appreciate that a local bar which serves pub grub, including signature burgers, might be what people are after, certainly some of them. Maybe it is foodies that you are really after as a burger vendor and not fast food lovers at all.
Consider the competition
Thinking about competition isn’t just trying to find a completely matching proposition. It is also trying to think about who else might be trying to access that. What is the problem you are really trying to solve? Don’t just think in an obvious way about competition. Try to keep focused on the problem and the people and you’ll get a far richer result. You might be surprised.
If you are starting to consider your competition, you have most likely already considered Problems, Solutions and People. Maybe looking at competition in this context will help you to reflect on some of those things and think about how people are trying to solve specific problems already. This starts to make you think about what makes you different and it’s important that you remember this and take it away with you. What are your USP’s and what makes you special?
If you haven’t already, you should complete a SWOT analysis for your business. This will help you with competition as well as help you to understand where you are trying to fit into the market. It is a really good way to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to your competition.
And The Wok…
Thinking about competition can throw up some unexpected things. Imagine you provided the first ever Wok. It might appear at first to have no competition; as being unique, but this is incorrect. It is a really common thing for people who are trying to come up with an innovative idea to look at the market and think there is nothing like them out there. They might think they are the first ever to create a particular idea, product or service.
People who aren’t necessarily in the entrepreneurial space can tend to think that your idea has to be brand new, but this is not the case. Your idea can just be a way of delivering something differently. If your problem is worth solving, frankly, people probably already are. With the Wok, it may well be the first one out there and it is certainly unique in a way, but to think that there is no competition at all would be a mistake. It would mean that no one is frying food. After all, the Frying pan has got this covered already!
People are solving problems in one way or another and with the example of the Wok, it is just a new way of cooking food. The Wok might make the whole process faster, easier or leave the food tasting better but it doesn’t change this fact. If you are sitting there thinking you have no competition at all, you are almost certainly going to be wrong as someone will be solving the problem, or attempting to at least, in some way or another. It is important to keep focused on people and solutions.
Questions to ask yourself:
This is the final element to consider when trying to develop your proposition. Work through the questions below, produce some honest answers and give a little more thought, in this final context, to what your competition is. You can reflect on your proposition and the people.
- How are people currently solving your problem?
- What companies are they using?
- What’s good about the current way of doing things?
- What’s wrong with the current way of doing things?
- What’s better about your solution?
- What’s better about the current way of doing things?
- What’s your main selling point? (More accessible? Cheaper? Easier? Makes you feel better?)
To be successful in business, you need to have a good grasp on your answers to these questions and those in our other Proposition based blogs; ‘The Problem’, ‘Your Solution’ and ‘The People’. Make sure you do your research and resort back to these questions if in any doubt. This will only help you in the long run, believe us.