Dr. Nadir Qazi, founder, Qazi Cosmetic Clinic, is a board-certified cosmetic physician & instructor for adv. injections & laser techniques.
When launching a business, it’s important to understand your market, your place in the market, your unique selling points and other factors that could pull your customers from you to purchase elsewhere.
When I opened my cosmetic surgery practice, everyone told me I would fail. “Look at your competition!” they would say. “How are you going to compete with them? They have deep pockets. They advertise. They have all that fancy, expensive equipment, and you don’t.” It was true. I didn’t have the deep pockets for expensive ad campaigns, and I didn’t have the budget for the expensive equipment my competitors had. What I did have was me, my talents, my skills and my passion for making a difference in people’s lives.
I started there. I didn’t even look at my competition at first because I knew I couldn’t compete. So I didn’t. I did what I came to do. I marketed using every free and low-cost avenue I could think of, and I showed people the results they could get with me, as well as the care and trust. I showed how I listen for the message between the words, and my business grew.
Does that mean there’s no value in looking at your competition? Quite the opposite. Over the years, I have learned to work with my competition—to complement what they offer and don’t offer where it makes sense for my business and my clientele.
Here are three important reasons you want to analyze your competition before you launch your business.
Know what you know, and learn from what you don’t.
Your competitors have expertise. They’ve been where you are; they’re doing it. Learn from them. Find out why people love them, why they don’t love them and what they wish the competition offered but doesn’t. Use this as an opportunity to learn from the successes and mistakes of others. By understanding your competitors’ businesses and operations models, you may be able to avoid pitfalls that could hinder your progress, especially financially.
However, be careful not to get stuck in the mindset that other business owners and CEOs have the magic wand. There is no need to follow; just understand. You have the intrinsic passion and power to lead—that’s what sparked your entrepreneurship to begin with. Look, listen, learn and be you.
Remember that the difference is in the details.
By uncovering what other players in your space are doing, you are now able to determine your points of differentiation. What are others doing? How are they doing it differently than you? Which clientele selects them and why? How are they succeeding, and what’s important about that to your potential clientele?
This is much more than just having knowledge about market share. You’ll want to build a competitive analysis that is thorough and includes knowledge of:
• Their leadership team and their expertise;
• Their place in the industry as well as your own;
• Who is investing in their company;
• Which industry partners they collaborate with;
• How they have built their brand platform and communication strategy;
• Whether they have a true differentiator or appear to be following others;
• From where and how they are recruiting and retaining talent to grow their business.
Explore these questions in detail and document your answers to give yourself the full scope of your competitive landscape.
Get to know your competition.
Your competition is not your enemy. They’re in the same business as you, and you may (or may not) be targeting the same clientele, but that does not mean you can’t be friendly, share clientele, complement one another’s services, and teach and learn from one another.
Business is a game, yes. But it’s a game of life—real life for you, your team and your customers. The better you can serve your clientele, the more often they think of you when they need products and services like yours. But what if you don’t offer something they need? Or what if your solution doesn’t fit their budget or their needs or timeframe or something else? Can you be a resource? Can you connect them with a competitor that’s a friend who can meet their needs when and where you cannot?
If you do this, you might fear losing your client. Chances are, just the opposite will happen. I find that clients remain loyal to vendors who are loyal to them. This might not always be the case, but often it is. If you’re the resource connecting them to the products and services they need, no matter whether you make money, you’re showing your clientele that you care more about them and their needs than just making a dollar. They will reward you for that. Be a friend to gain a friend. It works in life, on social media and in serving as a resource for your clients.
In summary, take the time to understand your competitors, and you will find that you can develop a business model that disrupts or revolutionizes an entire industry. You might even make friends along the way.
Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?