Many Steps Ahead of Competition

“Innovation keeps me ahead of my competition. It means that my foes must adapt to me, not the other way around.” – Georges St-Pierre

Companies now have no choice but to continually think of ways to keep ahead of competition. Dominating the business world requires a company to make meticulous choices and invincible strategies in order to leave your competitors behind – way behind. It is crucial that a company is abreast with the changing market situations and the possible challenges that could prevent them from staying ahead of competition. Traditional methods and practices must give way to current strategies and this must be a relentless and on-going process in order to achieve the kind of success they hope to get.

There is threat to companies from all directions – domestic competitors, competition spread across the globe – threatening to snatch away whatever little profit the company is able to gain. With so much and such diverse competition, companies just have to devote a large chunk of their time in preparing and implementing the best strategies to keep them ahead of competition. Customers are not easy to please and attract and after investing time and effort in gaining customers, your company cannot afford to let its competitors steal them. Being able to stay ahead of competition also translates to using these apprehensions and ‘fears’ to the advantage of your company. Learn from your competitors and then better whatever they do – this not only keeps your company miles ahead of them, it also helps your company to grow and learn. It keeps your company and its people on their toes, goading them to develop, learn new skills, innovate, create and serve the customers with highest form of customer service.

Getting ahead of competition is about using the threats and challenges posed by them to come up with answers that were hitherto inconceivable and put down your detractors. This approach enables each person within the company to go beyond their self-imposed limitations and use their capabilities to the optimum. Such a thought process will help your company to create consistently unique and distinct service and products that will keep you ahead of competition. In addition, with such common vision and goals, there is a spirit of togetherness and unity that makes for an energized workplace that is low on stress and conflicts and hence the workforce is happier. It is not easy for a company to balance the many components of a business but will collaboration, cooperation and smart thinking, it becomes a lot easier to strike and maintain this balance. Amongst the toughest business obstacles are those that compete for the exact same customer base, share of the market and even employees. In order for a company to succeed in trouncing them and walk many steps ahead of competition, it is crucial to understand who the competition is and what they are capable of doing.

Just as your company is constantly learning and evolving, it is not hard to know that the same is happening with the competition. So in order to take on the changing scenario and remain ahead of competition, it is the onus of the company to learn consistently and use updated technology to their advantage. Your competitors are not giving up on gaining new business or learning new ‘tricks’ to gain additional knowledge, hence it is just good business sense to gain a lead and stay ahead.

Before attempting to outdo or outrun your competition, your company would need to know who your competitors are and what they are doing. Understanding thoroughly the strengths, weaknesses, products, level of customer service and other aspects of your competitors. You need to understand what they are doing well and what appeals to their customers and why. In addition, it is important to gain an understanding of their customer base and target audience and the steps your competitors take to ensure loyalty and profitability. Collecting and analysing this information will make it easier for your company to improve on its own products and services and also present its customer service in a way that finds favour with customers – its own and that of competition. Business is a game that everyone is out to win – start your journey to stay ahead of competition, by first knowing who they are.

Irrespective of how well you know your competitors and put up ‘walls’ trying to prevent them from sneaking in to ‘steal’ your customers, nothing will stop your customers from moving out if your company does not deliver. Customers know they have choices, they are aware that companies need them to survive and they have all the information and tools they need to leverage this advantage. These facts then make it tougher for companies to hold on to customers if they don’t provide stellar customer service, great quality products, the best pricing and value added information and service. Customer needs are constantly changing and it is the task of companies to thoroughly understand them, anticipate them and provide for them – now and in the future.

Critical to survival and vital to staying ahead of competition is the fact that no company can afford to rest on its laurels or remain rooted in traditional methods. A futuristic approach is required, wherein the company must invest resources in developing plans that will hold well in the changed scenario of ‘tomorrow’. Many companies continually analyse past data and delve on past mistakes without learning from them. This is a waste of precious and limited resources and will do nothing to help them stay ahead of competition. A company must spend time and energy in continually bettering what their competitors are doing and a large part of the business strategies must revolve around these efforts. A ‘study’ of competitors must not involve only the well-established and definite threats to your business. It should include those ‘newbies’ and nascent stage companies too that can potentially upset the cart. In addition, include in your research any companies that could pose as competitors in the near future and the kind of methods and technology that could be available when such companies come into being.

Companies must remain unpredictable and flexible – this confuses the competition. It is simple – being predictable is repetitive and it is possible to counter any kind of repetition. Ensure that your company is constantly innovating and leading change so that your competitor is unable to anticipate your next move and would keep you ahead. It is important to lead, implement and encourage change within your organization. Train and coach your leaders and employees to welcome change and make it part of the culture such that new approaches, products, thoughts and goals do not unnerve anyone but rather are used to propel the company to stay ahead of competition.

Ensure that your company is aware of its greatest expenses and cut down on these expenses to pass on the benefit to the customers. For example: a large MNC realized that they were spending huge sums on stationery because paper was not being recycled and other stationery items being ordered were high end without any count of usage. The company enforced paper recycling, cut out unnecessary stationery items, replaced cheaper options of stationery and made it mandatory to record usage per team and even had rewards in place for the teams that could bring their stationery costs down. The money they saved by these simple methods, was used towards upgrading the technology of their contact centre, which in turn raised the standard of service provided to their customers. They recorded a 20% increase in customer satisfaction. Proper use of resources will cut costs for a company, which in turn would raise their profit margins and help to keep them ahead of competition.

Even if your company has gained the upper hand and secured its lead over the competition, it is never a good idea to take this for granted. Competition is moving too and their pace could quicken enough to outrun your company if you decide to become lax in your efforts. Staying ahead of competition is a relentless journey and no company can say that they have reached ‘finish line’.

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