Making competition into a positive for your business

by on November 25, 2013

Making competition into a positive for your businessThis post is sponsored by Visa Business.

The word ‘competition’ – does it bring up warm and fuzzy feelings for you? For most, probably not. It has a negative connotation.

It makes me think of things like fear and animosity; not exactly feelings that will help your small business. Make the choice to shift the way you feel about competition and consider framing your competitors in a different light – one of abundance. Positivity. Cooperation. This type of mentality propels your business forward.

Look on the bright side of your competitive environment. Your competitors can help you improve your business, your marketing, your communications and more.

Part of creating a marketing plan for your small business involves taking a look at the competitive environment. You should do it right at the outset of starting a business and you can revisit this research task again and again. Businesses make changes, new players enter the field – you need to stay on top of these developments. Carve out some time and take a good look at your competitors. Use the internet to your advantage – go to their website, blog, social channels, online profiles. Analyze what you see. Consider how they sell their offering.

Then, look to the following ways you can make the most of this competitive knowledge.

Develop your USP

An important part of the marketing strategy for any small business is considering your USP, or unique selling proposition. The way you figure out what makes you unique is via your competition. Look for ways in which what you do, the service you provide and the product you make/sell is different from the other businesses in your industry. Then, use this information in your marketing communications. This will help current and potential customers understand the value of your offering.

Learn from competitors

Learn what they are doing well
Rather than getting frustrated or feeling insecure when you see competitors doing well, look to it as an inspiration. What can you learn that will help your small business? Don’t copy all their tactics; that’s not what this is about. Let your competitors’ success spark some new ideas for you and get that creativity flowing.

Learn what they are doing poorly
You can also learn a lot by determining where your competitors come up short. Notice the complaints that come through on social media channels. Review their online presences. Once you understand where your competitors are lacking, see if you can offer a better experience with your business.

Learn what they are not doing at all
If you notice your competitors are not doing something that could help their business, capitalize on the situation. Offering something that your competitors aren’t providing can help you make inroads in a specific area. For example, when I am doing keyword research for a client, I love it when I find that their competition is not blogging. That’s a great opportunity for the client to make solid progress in search rankings.

Leverage their expertise

When you study your competitors, you learn more about your industry, the latest developments and other information that can help you to better serve your customers. Expand your knowledge by following your competitors on social media or reviewing their blog content.

Build a win-win mind set

When you worry about your competition and fear that they are going to take all the customers or clients, you express a limited, negative thought pattern that suggests you’re in some sort of a battle.

Instead, see how you can support each other. Perhaps they offer a specific sub-service that you can’t. Or maybe you’ve hit a really busy period and you’re not able to service all your customers or the inquiries that come through. It’s always nice when you can recommend good companies or service providers to your customers. And hopefully the other business will reciprocate, offering you some new opportunities.

Create partnerships

You can take the referral business concept and make it an official agreement with payouts or discounted services. This formally creates win-win scenarios where businesses can help support each other. Find businesses that offer complementary services to yours, and work together to get larger projects done.

My friend was looking for just that. He approached a local company to suggest such an arrangement, but rather than sensing the opportunity, the owner of that business was hesitant.  So my friend found another business to partner with and he refers customers to them when he’s working on projects that require their services – services he doesn’t offer. They do the same for him. Everyone benefits, and it makes my friend look good when he can offer the complete package to his clients.

Rather than seeing competitors as a threat, I prefer to view them as compatriots. Are you with me? Let us know in the comments how you leverage your competitive environment to make positive impacts on your business.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit

Image source: Ambro/ (business person race)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Samuel January 9, 2014 at 11:56 am

I always keep an eye on so many competitors and see how they are succeeding.

This is your advantage and one you should always be using while working on the Internet.

Thanks for the article!

– Samuel
Samuel recently posted..How to Combine Social Media with Your Blog’s Images


Martina January 13, 2014 at 9:44 am

Yes, definitely you can learn so much from what your competition is doing! Thanks so much for stopping by Samuel.


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