So, you’ve started your small business and made your mark on the market – tempted to put your feet up and relax? Better not! If you want your small business to remain successful you have to stay alert and keep an eye out for copycat competitors.
That’s one of the main issues with having a great business idea: As soon as you have something that works well, others will start to notice, adapt and even imitate you. And if you sit still and have a “but we did it first!” kind of attitude, your copycat competitors will eventually outperform you.
To make sure your small business remains unique and successful, you have to keep an eye on the market and react to changes. This will help you evolve your small business so you’re able to offer something different to your competition.
Why it’s important to change
Once copycats start to appear, your business is no longer unique. I’ve seen markets where each and every company had the same colour scheme for their brand design – they all looked like clones of each other! This makes it impossible for customers to differentiate between businesses.
And believe me: people who search for your services or products won’t know or care that you were first. If the brand design, tone of voice, USP and products on offer are all the same, they’re likely to base their decision on something as simple as which company is the cheapest.
Find out why it’s important to stand out from your competitors.
It’s important to react to change so you can differentiate yourself and show customers that you’re offering something different (and better) than your copycat competitors.
And that’s not the only area where changes can happen. The market and economy are constantly evolving and people’s needs, behaviour and values are shifting, so you have to be ready to react to this. To grow your small business sustainably, you have to be on your toes. All the time.
Looking to compete on value rather than price? I’ve got you covered – read this post next!
Copycat competitors and other reasons for change
Change can come from outside your business like those pesky copycat competitors. Or they can be internal things like shifting your focus to a different target group. Here are some of the key factors to keep an eye on.
- Within the marketplace, look for new competitors and keep an eye on existing ones
- Don’t forget the bigger picture and check for changes to laws and regulations as well as economic changes
- Keep an eye on customers for changes in demand and their expectations, values and behaviour
- Whether through increased sales or more employees, growth can be a big change
- Expansion to new branches and shops, or targeting new areas and customers are a key factor
- Look for changes in circumstances which will mean different goals for the business, particularly related to a change in your lifestyle (such as different work-life balance, increased time spent with family etc.)
- Changes in values and focus of the business can mean diversifying or specialising the products/services, focusing on a different target audience, changing the USP or adding values like social responsibility
Evaluate your current business strategy by taking a pause and reminding yourself what you’re actually selling! It’s easy to get caught up going through the motions. Take the time to refocus and identify any changes before you start taking the next steps.
What you can do
Once you have identified some of the main changes affecting your small business, you should react to these changes in order to evolve your business. This might include:
- Improving your existing products and services to adapt to customers’ or clients’ needs (or adding brand new products/services to cater to customer demands)
- Updating your branding, logo and USP to make sure you stand out
- Updating your production, delivery or operations to ensure you can keep up with the demands of the marketplace
- Changing your pricing structure and finances or budgets to remain competitive and successful
- Improving your workplace culture. For example, adapting to changes in staff numbers/structure and offering flexible employment to adapt to changes in people’s lives
- Improving business processes to increase efficiency. This could mean adapting and introducing new workflows, tools and systems to grow with the business
It might seem overwhelming at first but, for the most part, keeping on top of changes is easy as long as you plan ahead. Set long-term goals and plan for the future so you don’t get lost in the day-to-day running of the business. Keep an eye on your business performance and customer stats so you can identify changes and react before it’s too late.
2020 showed us that when it comes to a pandemic, there are lots of things we can’t necessarily plan for. The past year has been a massive learning curve for all business owners. What it has shown, however, is that if you keep on top of the more “routine” or expected market changes, it puts you in a much stronger position.
Always be on the lookout for things to change or improve, but make sure these changes are actually necessary and useful. Don’t just change for change’s sake! Make sure you’re open to challenging the status quo, and regularly examine whether there’s anything you could be doing differently.
Most importantly, use the ideas, creativity and originality which got you here in the first place to develop and evolve your small business.
WANT TO READ MORE?
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
5 Tips to Beat the Competition As a Small Business
Stop Discounting: How to Compete on Value Rather Than Price
How to Keep Track of Your Competition As a Small Business
What Does Success Mean to You and Your Small Business?