Staying Ahead

New Challenges

If you've finally managed to get ahead in your business, you've probably attracted your competitors' attention. They'll be watching to determine what you do right, and learning from any mistakes you make. By setting a new standard, you've challenged them to do better, so now isn't the time to be complacent.

Watching Your Competitors

Just as your competitors will keep an eye on you, you should also pay attention to them. There are three basic steps to monitoring your competition: collecting information, analyzing information and predicting the actions they'll take.

Using information to maintain a competitive advantage requires effective interpretation. Analyze the information to determine the strengths and weakness of your competitors, where they see opportunities, and what they see as a threat. From this basic analysis, you can start predicting their next actions.

Predicting and Planning

If you own a restaurant, and your competitor is building a patio, it's easy to deduce that they're planning to increase their summer business. If you're the president of an investment brokerage and your competitors hire a dozen graduates from a local fine arts college, you may need to hire a professional analyst to figure out what they are up to. In any case, once you determine what your competition is planning, you need to decide how their actions will affect you. Do you want to compete directly, or let them test the waters first? If you try to 'build your own patio', you may find out the hard way that their plan was ill conceived. At the same time, if you don't compete, you could end up losing business. Whatever you do, your actions need to conform with your own long-term plans. Don't be unnecessarily reactive. Take the time to consider any new course, or you might find that suddenly you're the one trying to catch up.