In 2017, I wrote about small business competition and how to protect yourself. It included high-level guidance on staffing, protecting intellectual property, building customer loyalty, and creating a high-quality product or service. In the past five years, I believe all that advice still holds. I wanted to add some additional insights I’ve gained over the years.
There is no guaranteed way to protect your small business completely from competitors, as competition is a natural part of the business world. You can minimize the risk of losing customers to your competitors by utilizing the strategies mentioned in the original article and those described below.
Having other players in your business niche is a good thing. It validates your idea. Back when I started Veracity Technologies, using WordPress as a complete website solution was unheard of. It was blog software. Now, WordPress powers over 43% of websites.
I’ve seen my clients adjust to market trends as well. Some have added new product lines, while others have discontinued providing certain services.
Keeping up with industry trends and innovations can help you stay ahead of the competition. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and try to stay one step ahead of them by being the first to adopt new technologies or offer new products or services.
Stealth Learning Opportunities
One of the facts about my business is that my small business clients occasionally move to other website providers. This is typical because (a) they were offered something they perceived as “bright and shiny” or (b) they simply wanted a change. I always took it in stride and went out of my to help the new developer transition the account. What I have learned over the years is that when a client does leave your business, you need to become more introspective and try to figure out what you could have done differently.
The stealth part? I watch closely to see what their new partner does on their behalf. I look at site performance and technical SEO. I try to keep up with their social media posts. I want all my clients, past and present, to be successful! It’s a challenge for me not to step in and say, “Hey, I think there could be an issue with…”
Why have clients left Veracity? Two reasons have been historically given. One, a change in management or company direction, or two, my kid/nephew/neighbor took coding in school.
I’ve had clients come back to Veracity. That’s where my most significant learning opportunities lie. We spend a lot of time discussing what worked and what failed. I want to gain a clear understanding of what their goals are and what motivated them to return. I feel this brings us into a closer partnership.
Learning is a constant evolution that improves your business and differentiates you from others.
Small Business Competition is Necessary
Competition is a fact of any business venture, whether large or small. It helps spur innovation and generates more choices for the consumer. A perfect example is walking through a craft fair. How many exhibitors are selling handmade ___?
Don’t run away from the competition. Embrace it and learn from it! As long as your employees, intellectual property, and other business assets are protected; your business will be better, and your customers will benefit.
Develop Customer Service as a Brand Attribute
Customers appreciate great customer service, and it can help build customer loyalty. Make sure your employees are well-trained in customer service and that you have a process for handling customer complaints and feedback. This will make your brand stronger than your competitors.
Provide the opportunity for your customers to provide feedback. Act on that feedback and learn. If someone posts a negative review, there are proper ways to respond.
Final Thoughts on Small Business Competition
To stay ahead of your competition, focus on what makes your business unique and keep working to improve your products, services, and customer experiences.