How do you find out what your competition is up to?
In some ways, it is important to focus on what you are doing and not to be too fearful of competition. Fear is your enemy and can prevent you from building an amazing and much-needed product, service, and business. At the same time, it is foolish, and completely negligent not to do your homework on your competitors. So, what ways are there to find out what they are doing?
The Need to Find Out What Your Competitors Are Doing
Knowing and monitoring your competition is vitally important.
It’s not for finding reasons not to start a business, scaring yourself out of business, or to copy them.
These are some of the reasons you can’t afford to skimp on it.
Competitor research isn’t just a nice to have. Not doing your research is pure negligence. That could be a problem with your investors, cofounder, and others. Besides, you want to ensure you are really onto something solid that will hold up for your customers and any hires you to make.
Validating Your Idea
Before you even try to start a business this research will help validate your idea. It will help you analyze why no one is doing it if you don’t find any active direct competitors. As well as to gauge who will become your competitors if you are successful. Then to also evaluate the potential profitability or length and size of losses you’ll need to sustain to get profitable.
Before you create any fundraising pitch decks or M&A memorandums you’ll want to do fresh research to display the most up to date data.
Being Alert To Threats & Opportunities
This competitive research isn’t a one-time thing. There are others out there who have teams up all night strategizing how to beat you and bury you. You need to be constantly alert to the next moves they are making, the risk this can bring, and the opportunities and advantages you can use to get ahead of them.
7 Ways To Find Out What Your Competitors Are Doing
It is mind-blowing that some want to be entrepreneurs don’t even take this simple step. As soon as you have an idea you should be hitting Google to see who else is already doing something like this. Even five minutes on your phone can tell you a lot about this space.
More advanced SEO and digital advertising tools like Google Ads can tell you how your competition is ranking for terms around this idea, how much they are spending on ads, how many leads they are attracting each month, and where they are coming from. This will give you fast insights into what it is going to take to compete in this space, and where there are voids to fill or it may be too crowded and expensive.
You can always buy in-depth market research reports from big firms. They can be expensive and out of date if you are not careful. Make sure the value is there compared to your other options.
Hire For It
You can also hire your own market research team and do things in-house or just buy business templates. This may include admin assistants to do fresh online research, SEO and marketing experts, consultants, and advisors who have inside knowledge of what’s happening across space.
Get A Job There
If you are still in the idea stage, some of the most successful entrepreneurs have found it beneficial to go work for a big company in their space first. It is a chance to see what good looks like at scale and to learn how to run an operation, and not.
Recruit Their Teams
Obviously this has to be approached carefully with good ethics, and within the bounds of any legal issues. Though hiring top talent from your competitors can give you a fast track to gaining more insights and scoring a sweeping advantage all at once.
Call Them & Ask
You might find it surprising that many successful entrepreneurs are often in close contact with the founders and CEOs of other companies in their industry. While they may compete out in the field, they also build relationships with each other. Sometimes they will be willing to share. Sometimes it will lead to a natural M&A deal.
Buy From Them
One of the simplest, yet usually neglected ways to do this is to simply buy from them. Go through the shopping experience yourself. Do the same with your own company and compare it to yours. Get on their lists, follow them on social media, visit them, listen to their pitches, invest in them, or maybe just buy the company. Just watch out for unscrupulous inbound offers designed just to get your inside info through due diligence, and then use it against you.
Competitor research is vital to launching any startup. It continues to be valuable and even legal responsibility. It is a core part of fundraising and getting to an exit too. There are a variety of ways to find out what your competitors are doing. They run from very basic and free, too expensive and time-consuming. Do watch the value. Though know that this research is worth the investment, and can make all the difference in your success and survival over the long term.