By Jude Obuseh
(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Know your enemy and the battle is half won – Anonymous
Wealth-creation is the ultimate competition; it is warfare. One business or group of businesses will try to take control of another through the use of stratagems, often weakening the competing business or even destroying it in the process. Just like war, some businesses are competitions between rivals, while others are unprovoked efforts of bigger businesses to swallow up or control smaller ones.
Competition is an everyday reality. Whether you are establishing a new business or strengthening an already existing one, being aware of what your rivals are up to can save you a lot of heart ache. You must be informed of all your competitors’ moves and device strategies to counter them, in order to maintain your competitive advantage. That is why every business must have a comprehensive plan, which must include a section dedicated to Competitive Analysis.
A competitive analysis is your chance to look at what your competition is doing and why. It contains a list of your main competitors, their strengths and weaknesses. The more information you have about them the better. Know where they are located, what they sell their prices, their marketing strategies and messages, web addresses and reputations.
The major reason why clever entrepreneurs succeed in their businesses, and their success seems extra-ordinary, is their foreknowledge of their competitors’ strategies. This foreknowledge cannot be warmed out of ghosts, or from diviners or fortune tellers, or from prophets, or from Brahmins. It must be obtained by careful intelligence work; through artful spying. In business parlance it is called the art of “shopping your competition”.
You can shop your competition by finding out the businesses they do by calling them, visiting their offices, buying from them, getting their price lists and counting customers coming out of their stores. Talk to their customers by finding out what they like and dislike about your competitors. You can even befriend staff of your competitors and extract crucial information from them.
Artful spying is not a new strategy. In business, as in warfare, arming yourself with crucial knowledge of your competitor or opponents, improves your aim in the long run. Most large corporations the world over engage in this practice in prosecuting their business wars. Through the use of moles (spies), some of these organizations have obtained business secrets and used them to effective advantage. Although this practice might be ethically frowned at, it is standard practice in the business world of today.
The advantage of gathering intelligence on your competition is not far-fetched, for in the realm of business, the objective of the entrepreneur is the extent of control he has over his business. But the problem is that competing businesses won’t just surrender their success secrets to you. They control the amounts of information they let out to the public, keeping the most crucial aspects of their operations under wraps. The logical consequence is that you have access to only pockets of information, which might be deceptive and not be useful to your quest for competitive advantage. You must seek for ways of warming this information out of all available sources.
With the information gathered from your sources you can stand up to the competition, coming up with products and services that are peculiar to your brand image. Your business will be miles ahead of the competition because of the range of information at your disposal. The products and services you design and churn out will be eclectic, having their intended original qualities and possessing significant aspects of other competing products. This leverage will ultimately shore up your customer base and strengthen the brand in the process. You pre-empt your competitors into making mistakes, as they try agonizingly to unravel the secrets behind your success.
However, crucial as it is, standing up to your competitors should not be carried out without recourse to legal and ethical principles guarding the conduct of business in your country. It should be done intelligently and without recourse to criminality of any kind. Also know that the law of retribution also operates in the business world, for as you try to outwit your competitors, expect them to also spy on you. It is tit for tat.
Have a great weekend and stay glued to this platform for more business and sundry other tips.
****** Jude Obuseh is a Nigerian based Peace Researcher, Journalist, Publisher, Life Coach and Entrepreneur. He is an alumnus of the Premier University of Ibadan, and holds a B.Sc in Political Science, an M.A in Peace and Conflict Studies, alongside other professional qualifications. His areas of research interests are: International Political History, Early Warning Strategies, International Security Management and Peace Building Strategies. He is the Executive Director of Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Initiative (CPPBI), a Nigerian based non-governmental organization committed to the prevention of violent conflicts in Africa. Jude can be reached on: Tel – +2348168580211 or via E-mail at email@example.com