Each new year always feels like a new beginning to most entrepreneurs, and how your company performed last year has a lot to do with how you feel about your chances of success this coming year. If you feel like you were winning the race, you’re probably more anxious to get started racing again than the business owner that feels beat up. Whether your business is just getting started or has been established for years, one of the secrets to winning your race is knowing everything you can about your competitors. Most of us research the competition before we start out, but as you get involved in the details of running your business, it’s easy to lose track of what they’re doing, and that’s not good for your business.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to keep tabs on your competitors. Here are a few tricks of the trade for winning this years’ competition:
One of the easiest ways to get the upper hand is to use the modern tools available to you and harness new technology. A simple but useful way to know what your competitors are up to is to set up email alerts on their company names, and product names. You’ll get alerted whenever they’re in the news. Sign up for your competition’s newsletter and set up RSS feeds for their blogs. Now suddenly, everything they’re doing will be delivered straight to your inbox.
Even if you don’t do social media, make sure you follow your competition. Check out their Facebook pages and follow them on Twitter. Many a business secret has accidentally been exposed by an errant keystroke. Read between the lines to savvy new product launches or growth plans. And don’t forget to take the survey. Those innocent questions can sometimes turn out to be very revealing.
Use a broad brush to catch all the potential customers that other industries may be taking from you and you don’t even realize it. These indirect competitors are companies that compete for the same dollars as your business, although they may not be in your industry. For instance, restaurants and bars compete for discretionary dollars with movie theaters and other entertainment businesses.