Business plan: how to be better than your competitors

No matter how original, unique and brilliant your idea is, there are always going to be other businesses out there competing for your customers. However, this doesn’t mean you should give up – it should just spur you on to be the absolute best you can be! The video below gives advice on how to complete the "How to be better than your competitors" section on the Virgin StartUp business plan.

Learn from them

Research and study your competitors so that you can find out both what they’re really good at, and what they’re bad at. Where they’re good, you can learn from them – and where they’re bad, you can aim to do it better in your own business.

Read up on the history of the business, and how it came to be. Go in and do a bit of undercover work by experiencing the services first hand. Read reviews on Tripadvisor and Yelp to see what the customers are saying, or chat to them yourself. Search social media to find out what people are saying about the business. Now with the advent of the internet, it’s never been easier to find out what people really think about businesses and services.

Look at how you compare

Think about why people use your competitor’s product or service. Is it because of price? Is it because they’re accessible? If it’s a café or restaurant, is it the décor, food, or service that has people coming back?

You might find it helpful to create a specific list of competitors and explain what you’re competing with them on. Perhaps you bulk-buy your product wholesale and are able to offer an equal standard at a lower price; perhaps you have a more luxurious environment, or you’re just in a better location with more footfall.

Then, it’s home truth time: why should these customers, presumably used to using the service or product they usually do, switch to you?

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers, and think about your unique selling points in general. Every product or service is solving a problem, so what problem are you solving? What are the things that set you apart? These are the things that will win over customers. For example, say you run a coffee shop and you’re competing with a chain up the road. They might have you cornered on price, but perhaps you offer a higher quality of coffee and wonderful customer service – every customer walks out smiling. Be aware of your strengths and play to them.

It’s an ongoing process

It doesn’t end when your business starts – keeping up to date with your competitors is an ongoing process. Read the trade press for your industry, check out the products and services of your competitors, and generally ensure that you’re on the ball. And just like you listened to the opinions of your competitors’ customers, make sure that you listen to the opinions and thoughts of your own through keeping up to date with reviews, taking the time to ask for feedback, and listening when someone makes a complaint or suggestion.

Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan