Feeling the Heat of Competition

As a player in the dynamic high-tech arena, you should always be aware of new competitors and market trends; both could threaten to displace you or your products.

By Diana L. Mirakaj

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Look before you leap. Never bring a knife to a gun fight. How you defend your business against competitors should be based on more than an idiom or a sarcastic quip. Instead, here’s some practical—and less clichéd—advice.

As a player in the dynamic high-tech arena, you should always be aware of new competitors and market trends; both could threaten to displace you or your products. Also, make sure that each choice you make has a high probability of leading to profitability and future opportunities.

And here’s some more:

Never stop asking questions.
What’s your company most known for today? What do you want to be known for in the next five to 10 years? As a business owner, you’re the company’s greatest advocate and harshest critic. Ask tough questions of yourself and your team, and demand answers to get the best results possible on behalf of the company.

Catalog your company’s assets.
How much capital is set aside for reinvestment? Can a value be tied to nurturing and maintaining customer relationships? One of the challenges expressed by solution providers is building—and sustaining—those relationships over the long term. And that’s a key strategy as channel partners move away from a transactional model and toward one based on solution-based sales. Think about your business – how many of your customers are true supporters? In a time of transition, how likely would they be to stick with you vs. defecting to a competitor?

Examine how your company differentiates itself. Is your value proposition what’s driving customers to buy from you instead of the competition, or is it another factor? What percentage of your customers engage on a recurring basis? If you make it all about your customers—what they want, what they need, and how you can address those wants and needs consistently, they won’t look elsewhere for support.

Be a specialist, not a generalist.
Do you claim to solve every problem? Is it better to offer solutions and services across a broad array of technologies, purporting to achieve numerous goals and failing, or to focus on a few and actually deliver on your promises? The latter is the way to go. Specialize. Be constant and reliable. Whether you select a product, process, or market segment, your customers will depend on you, and your competitors will view you as a formidable rival.

Cultivate strategic partnerships and alliances. Look for options to collaborate with your peers and potentially extend the reach of your business. Co-launching a new product or service may provide the resources needed to enter a new market. Look to industry groups or associations for assistance with networking, media outlets for building awareness through content contribution, and universities for internship programs if additional human capital is needed.

Only when a company is informed of how its competitors conduct business will it be able to separate itself and find a niche where it can perform at its best. So whatever approach you choose, don’t remain idle. Be proactive to make your company’s future better than its past and brighter than its competitors.

dianaDiana L. Mirakaj is president and chief operating officer of The 2112 Group. You can follow her on Twitter at @dlenam.