You need competition

You need competition

As business leaders, we sometimes cringe when we hear the word competition. Other business leaders even go to the extent of trying to kill the competition by buying it out or taking certain legal action to make sure that they will never see the light of day.
But in reality competition is good for your business and for the consumer. When you were starting your business you might have thought to yourself that it would be easier doing business without competitors.
But what one fails to understand is that if competitors don’t want to get onto your type of business it means you are destined to fail in that business because there is no “honey” to speak of. Competition is either direct or indirect.

But having competitors is healthy. It’s actually good for your business. You need to embrace competition and see it from a positive perspective. You need to learn from the enemy. There is a tactic in the book, Art of War, which says “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Your competition can teach you the biggest lessons. You are in business to make money through your customers. Where there is stiff competition, you will be forced to focus on keeping your customers happy. As one of several companies offering a similar product, you are forced to compete for customers.
You have to ensure that you improve your customer service if you have to attract and retain customers. All this will also benefit the customers as well, as they will receive excellent service. In some cases you might have to change your strategy and adopt a focus strategy where you have to focus on your core customers or target a specific geographic location or demographic sector.

Because of competition, you just have to pay attention to your target market to be able to better provide for your customers and thus keep the competition at bay. When your business is doing well and is booming in sales and in profits, you don’t have enough time to evaluate every customer but when there’s market competition, you’ll give time and resources to appreciate every customer.
Competition brings out the best in you. With competition breathing on your back you are kept on your toes and so you have to keep your product or service fresh, appealing and attractive to customers. You also need to you work faster and smarter.

You can’t remain lackadaisical or work sluggishly when there is stiff competition. Your competitors might end up pushing you out of the market.
With competition you become very creative at whatever you do. If you have to succeed in the industry you are in then you better be innovative. But if you’re the only player in your field, it can be difficult to improve. There will not be any push to be creative.
However if you are in a market where it’s dog eat dog, where the market is crowded, you have to do something unusual to succeed or else you become extinct. Healthy competition encourages change which will distinguish your company from others.
You have to do something that makes your company to stand out. Competition opens your mind and eyes to ideas. Without competition, you don’t have the motivation to go the extra-mile in delighting your customers.

However where there is competition and if you keep your eyes open to ideas, you can learn a lot from your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and capitalise on them to improve your product or service.
Businesses sometimes become so complacent without competition. However the presence of competition shakes off complacency. If your company is consistently under pressure from competitors it will try to better itself and the management and employees will be forced to push themselves to their limits.
Nancy Pearcey, an American evangelical author, once said: “Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.”
Competition is educative for your business. Seeing what your competitors do well can teach you a lot about your business. Your competitors will come up with certain business practices which will provide you with valuable insight into the state of the market, and shows you what works and what doesn’t.

You can actually benchmark some of your activities or departments with your competitors’ activities if they are industry leaders. You will thus move up the rung.
Without competition, you tend not to pay particular attention to your strengths and weaknesses. However stiff competition forces you to identify and study your strengths and weaknesses. You will thus have to work hard on your weaknesses and exploit your strengths to outperform your competition.
Sun Tzu in the Art of War advises that if you have to succeed in a competitive environment you need to avoid your competitor’s strengths and find their greatest weaknesses and exploit them.
You should also never stop learning from your competition and take note of the chinks in their armour. The saying that “the weakness of an enemy forms part of your own strength” is true.

Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy, advanced performance management and entrepreneurship.
He is the Managing Consultant of Shekina Consulting (Pty) Ltd and provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.
For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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