It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses. – William Arthur Ward
Sears is readying its second-quarter results, and it’s not looking too good. Apparently, its competitors are already eyeing the once-formidable retailer for its connections, employees and most importantly, customers. It seems more and more likely that Sears will suffer the fate of Radio Shack if its numbers continue downward.
This news had a bunch of my small business clients spooked and contacting me. The question on their minds was: “If a generations-old company is failing, how can I succeed when I’ve got all this competition?”
My immediate response was to remind these folks that they are in the small business market, and shouldn’t compare themselves to a big business. It’s not to say there’s nothing to learn — it’s just that it’s like looking into a funhouse mirror.
If you were my client, and unless you were in an extremely specialized field where you’re one of a handful of players, I’d advise you not to assume anything about the competition other than:
- they are healthier and better than you,
- you’ll never see their financial statements, and
- they aren’t paying you any mind.
That mindset should keep you motivated to rise to a higher level and also to save time, money and effort. Ultimately, thinking about your competitors is a drain on your resources and causes too much of a headache. Keep your eyes on your own work and keep innovating.
Unless someone’s truly out to get you in the way of a lawsuit or actual torment, don’t waste one sip of your bourbon on them. If you’re going to focus about something — make it your own success.
Know Your Position
While I continue to stress not to compare yourself to major retailers, there’s still a general principle to learn from them, and it’s to know where you stand.
Look at the classic Target vs. Wal-Mart standoff.
Target is essentially a direct competitor, but doesn’t position itself that way. Target is “cheap chic” whereas Walmart is just inexpensive. Go further down the rabbit hole and you find the dead bodies of Two Guys, Caldor, Ames, and the jackals at the door or Shane’s and Dollar Trees. The problem is that there is always someone who can do the same job or offer the same quality for a penny less.
Unless it’s part of the strategic plan to be the absolute lowest price on the block, it’s better to simply offer low prices and high value without being seen as the rock bottom.
You’ve got so much competition out there that if one company goes down, just expect another one to sprout up next week. It’s not like the oil industry where there are a few major players and if one goes under it can send world markets into a tailspin.
Contact Brinen & Associates to discuss more business planning methods.