Sunday, July 13, 2008

Beat the Competition Before They Beat You

score_tjpg_pitlick This article was written by Hillel Pitlik, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Being in a small business today is a constant battle.  You are always looking over your shoulder to see what your competition is doing. This reactive method suggests keeping the status quo until things get tough.  Without doubt reacting is not the most efficient way to operate.

Let’s consider a slightly different approach. If you could conceive of the idea that would put you out of business, then you could beat your competition by getting there first, and thus continue to grow and flourish.
It almost sounds too simple, because it is.

Such a process demands that you begin by thinking out of the box. Spend some time studying your business and thus grasping every facet effecting its growth or decline. Record your observations carefully. Ask yourself the critical questions that reveal what you are doing right and what you are not doing right or not doing at all.

Look around the business world for similar businesses and how they are behaving in the current business climate. What must change for you that could lead you to start such thinking process?  Start now before change is forced upon you.  So put on your thinking cap today.

What product or service don’t you deliver today that your customers could use? Do these fit within your present business model? If not, how can your model be modified? Do you have the skills and the resources to add these new elements to your business? If this new segment is a good idea should you consider evolving your business in a new direction, so when the competition wakes up, you are already successfully operating in that area and they have to play catch up to you.

Just as you should review your cash flow on a monthly basis to properly manage your business, so should you go through this out of the box evaluation on an annual basis. It allows you to keep your business fresh and on the path of success. This process should be conducted with the key people in your enterprise for greater effectiveness. More heads are better than one.

Remember that you have lived with your business since inception. Don’t get bogged down in the past, look into the future.