Running a business that is competitive is important. If a business is not making money or turning a profit, then it is simply existing. Eventually, it will end up costing more to run and keep, and in such cases it would be best to dissolve. However, it doesn’t have to be like this, as there are lots of ways you can make a business competitive. When a business is competitive with both direct and indirect customers then you have a better chance of long-term success. To be truly competitive, a business has to be both efficient and effective.
What Does an Effective Business Look Like
An effective business is one that has a purpose, and one that has direction. Effective businesses have a plan of action, and they are not wasteful with their resources. Within a business’ overall plan, they will set achievable goals which they will be working to reach every day. Setting achievable and realistic goals will help a business be truly effective and successful. An effective business is always looking for ways to improve on what it is doing, and what it is offering. Progress will always be monitored, and improvements will always be made as and when necessary. A business that is proactive in taking action is one that is efficient, simply because it is always striving to achieve more and offer more.
What Makes a Business Truly Competitive
If a business is not competitive then it will not succeed. Competition cannot be won solely based on price alone as this would end up leading to a price war. Price wars between businesses rarely ever see a clear winner, just more customers and tighter profit margins. A truly competitive business is one that is always striving to be better, and one that is always monitoring what its competitors are up to. Competitive businesses are not just competitive on paper, in fact, it is a mindset that is usually adopted by all those that work for a business. As part of this mindset and approach, competitive businesses are always looking for ways to make improvements, and they are always looking at how they can improve their service for the customer, as well as the processes that they use.
Laying Out Targets and Goals
To be as competitive and effective as possible it is important that a business always sets goals and targets that they can work towards. If targets and goals are not created and subsequently worked towards, then how will a business have direction, and how will it achieve the most that it can? When a business is creating and laying out these goals and targets it is important that they also look at competitive business strategies. Strategies that are used alongside goal and target setting can ensure that a business’s efforts are more targeted and more focused. When setting business goals and targets it is important that they are clear, focused, measurable and achievable. One of the best acronyms to follow when setting business goals is SMART. Implementing SMART goals and targets will help a business reach and surpass its goals in a realistic timeframe. As timeframes and deadlines are crucial in any business it is important that goals and targets are also given deadlines. For example, a good goal for a business to set would be to improve and implement changes to how the business operates within the next 6 months. Being specific and being time relevant is a must for any target or goal that is set.
Talking about changes in business is one thing, but actually committing to making it and implementing the change can be harder than most businesses realize. Change is incredibly hard to make if a business has been doing things a certain way for a long time. When it comes to implementing changes, it is important that a business focuses on making changes that will last. Trying to change everything quickly and all in one go may sound appealing, but realistically, how likely are these changes to last? Implementing changes that everyone within a business agrees with is also important. If a business is fighting internal battles with staff or employees, as well as fighting with competitors and other businesses, then change can feel tedious, and it can feel forced and not welcome. To successfully implement positive changes the environment of a business has to be both welcoming and ready to embrace change at any level.
Delegate Tasks and Responsibilities
Whether you own a business or you run a business, it is important to remember that no single person can do everything by themselves. Where possible, delegation of tasks and responsibilities should always be introduced. If tasks and responsibilities are not delegated, then people will not know what they are doing and why. Giving out more responsibility and sharing the strain and stress of running a business will allow those in leadership to focus on other areas. Areas that perhaps they don’t currently get enough time to focus their attention on. To make delegation work (and to ensure it does not turn into a power struggle) the right people for the job or the task at hand have to be chosen. Looking at employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and then delegating tasks and responsibilities to those who are the strongest will increase the success rate.
Focusing on Efficiency
For a business to be competitive and effective it also needs to focus on efficiency. How a business is run on a daily basis is just as important as how it is run over a longer period. For a business to be efficient, processes need to be regularly reviewed and changed when necessary. Without efficient processes and practices in place, a business would simply just be getting by and not thriving, which is what it needs to be doing. To establish how a business can improve efficiency within its daily operations, it is crucial that practices and processes are regularly monitored. If processes are not monitored then how can you expect to establish where change needs to happen, and where it can happen?
Creating a Business Plan
It is a misconception that business plans are only used for startups or new businesses. Business plans can be an effective tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. A good business plan will give an overview of how a business is doing, and also what direction it is heading in. Even though a business may already have a business plan in place, it may already be out of date. Time moves quickly in the business world and business plans have to be regularly updated, altered and, of course, monitored. A business plan that covers what a business will do (and when) to be more effective and competitive is essential. If an overall business plan is not created, and subsequently not followed then what will everyone be following and working towards? A business plan that covers the next few years is best used in conjunction with goals and targets. A solid and fresh business plan that covers everything from daily operators to an in-depth competitor analysis will be able to highlight areas that need strengthening and focusing on.
Focusing on Your Education and Development
All businesses need to focus on constant development and education. If a business is not in the process of pushing forwards, then it is, in fact, remaining stagnant and this is not what you want to do. When it comes to focusing on development and education, a business needs to think about areas of weaknesses and areas of strength. So, looking directly at a business, what can you see? Where do changes need to be made instantly – perhaps by focusing on development, and where can improvements be made by focusing on education? For example, an online predictive analytics masters will help a business gain strength and a competitive advantage over all of its competitors. Education and development must be a key area in any business no matter its size. When a business invests in education and development it can be sure that it is maintaining its position (or foothold) in the market.
Leading and Developing a Strong Team
All businesses of any size and structure need a strong leadership team. Even if leaders are not leading from the front, all employees need somebody to look towards. Leadership is changing and it is more focused on building a strong team, as opposed to having a leader who dictates. Strong leadership that is in-tune with a strong and solid business team is what all businesses should be aiming to achieve. Developing employees and harnessing their strengths and attributes will help a business strengthen what it offers and why. When a team is cohesive, strong and focused on achieving business success then you will find that a business, on the whole, is a lot more effective and competitive.
Staying Ahead of the Curve and Staying Ahead of Change
Following behind other businesses is no good in competition. To be out there and to be seen, a business needs to stay ahead of the curve, and always stay ahead of change. Being one step ahead of what competitors are doing, and what they are offering is important. If a business is not offering something different or if it is not staying ahead of change, then ultimately it will fall behind its competitors. Getting out from behind a competitor’s shadow can be hard to do, it can also be costly and timely.
Using and Incorporating Data
Guesswork and estimations are not going to help a business be more effective or more competitive. Hard, solid data (crucially, that is up to date) is going to be more beneficial than anything else. Regularly using and incorporating data and information from a variety of mixed sources will help a business plan out (and map) its future. It will also help it to foresee any potential problems further down the line. Data within any business should be seen as something that is incorporated and updated regularly, and not something that is simply done on an ad-hoc basis. When you look at data as a key tool to competitiveness and effectiveness in any business you can then start pushing towards greater success.
Having a Unique Selling Proposition
A business has to offer something or even do something that competitors are not offering. To be constantly competitive a business has to have a unique selling proposition or USP. If no USP is present within a business, then how can it expect to compete, charge more, or even sustain itself through periods of change and development? Some businesses have visible USP’s such as free items. However, some businesses have added value such as an additional (or extra) service for their customers, and this is their USP. Establishing a strong USP will help a business remain competitive.
Get to Know Customers
Whether a business has customers, clients or users, it is important to get to know them and know what they need and want. The more a business can find out about their customers then the stronger a position they are in, and the more they can offer (and provide). Customer insight is powerful as it allows businesses to push forwards, and also to focus on aspects or areas that are important for them and for their customers. Without knowing their customers, how could a business plan for their future? How could they anticipate what they need or what they want?
A business that is both effective and competitive is one that employs a variety of techniques, methods and approaches. There is no one size fits all approach in business, and this is something that all business owners should realize and take on board. For a business to stay competitive it has to ensure that everything it does or everything that it offers is adding value to its customers’ lives. If there is no value being added, then why would a customer stick with a business?