How to Learn from Your Competitors?

18 Oct How to Learn from Your Competitors?

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How to Learn from Your Competitors?

checkered_flagIt’s a fairly obvious conception that a person should learn from their competitors.

In terms of business, it’s not only legal but perfectly fair to lift ideas from somebody who has already done it, and the race for new ideas is not about who implements the idea longer or better, but rather who implements it first.

While this at least should be fairly obvious, the problem becomes that very few people actually learn anything from their competition.

While this at least should be fairly obvious, the problem becomes that very few people actually learn anything from their competition.

This can be the result of several problems, but the most common is that people tend to study their competitors for their weaknesses rather than their strengths. They look for exploitable chinks in the armor of their rivals rather than common-sense approaches to improve themselves. This largely stems from the common conceit that your competitors are morons. I can assure you that if they are competing with you for market share, this is not the case.

If you want your business to succeed, it’s time to stop seeing your competitors as cartoon villains with twirly mustaches tying your profits to the train tracks with a sinister laugh. Instead of focusing on your competitors’ flaws, concentrate instead on their bold actions, their successful campaigns, and how they eventually won. If you must see business in terms of war, then see if you can find a military textbook that doesn’t focus on how commanders won victories rather than how they were defeated. We teach our commanders how to win by examining how others have.

In order to get past the mindset that our competitors are on some level evil and stupid, take a moment and do this exercise. List the five smartest things your three largest competitors have done in the last year. Don’t just do this yourself, have your managers do the same. This will help you take a step back and assess the situation without letting personal feelings get in the way. You can also assess why they were smart ideas and how you can replicate or improve on them.

Next, take some time to analyze your competitors’ organization.

What about their companies is better or more successful than yours? The odds that your company is the best at everything is very slim or, once again, it is unlikely that these would be competitors. So take the time to honestly assess what they do better than you and how they accomplish it, then you can work on improving yourself.Finally, try to put yourself in your competitors’ shoes.

What do they think of you? How do they think you’ll act in a given situation? If you can decipher their expectations of you, you can anticipate their next move. You can also learn about your own flaws since it’s just as likely that your competitors have been underestimating you the same way you have been underestimating them. Self-examination is often easier when you take the time to step away from the rut of your habitual thinking and view yourself from another perspective.

It’s no mean feat to learn from the people who are struggling to garner your business, but by taking the time to see what they’ve done right rather than trying to find the things they do wrong, you can co-opt those techniques, make them your own, and sprint ahead in the race that is business.



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