Answering five key questions can reveal how entrepreneurs can identify and beat the competition

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty
Source: Getty
In order to beat the competition, entrepreneurs and companies first need to know who the competition is, which requires them to know themselves – both of which aren’t always obvious, warns the head of Israel’s Export and Market Intelligence Unit Naor Morag.

“There is so much opportunity around the world, and it is exciting. But sometimes, you feel like you are in a cave with so much information and you are just holding a torch in your hand, not seeing the obstacles, not seeing what is in front of you, not seeing the challenges, and you wish you could switch on a light”​ to see the full picture – including who you are and who are up against, Morag said.

“This is what market intelligence is all about,”​ but in order to use it to its full potential and chart a successful path around the competition, he said, entrepreneurs need to gather all the information they can about themselves, about their sectors and their immediate competitors.

They also need to assess the threats and opportunities that lie beyond their sector – because that is where the most disruption usually originates.

“A lot of things come from unexpected places … and different circles we don’t know about,”​ such as the threat plant-based proteins and cellular meat hold against animal agriculture, which would have been unpredictable five or 10 years ago, he said.

Know yourself first

“So, where to start?”​ he asked. The answer: With yourselves and with your clients.

He explained that to know your own business, entrepreneurs and leaders need to sit down a customer or consumer they trust to answer honestly five questions.

“Ask them: Why did you choose to buy from us? Why did you choose to buy from the competitors? What is the main thing you would like us to keep doing for you? What can we do to improve your experience, and what would you say if you would refer someone to us? And then, most importantly, what will be the Google term when you search for a service or product like us?”​ he said.

The answers will give entrepreneurs insights into what they doing, how they are doing it and if they are reaching their target market.

Know your competitor

Next, answer the same questions about competitors, he added. Include who your competitors are, what their target market its, their costs, their growth curves and more.

Morag said those answers can come from a lot of sources, including managers, consultants, friends and family, the Internet, market intelligence, and consumers. And once you have them all, he advised, entrepreneurs should organize them clearly in a table.

“That table will help you understand what information you need and how to connect variables,”​ including variables that can change and differ from your product or service, something you can change and what other information you need to collect, he said.

From there, entrepreneurs will be better positioned to focus limited resources on areas where they are the weakest and need the most help – and that is when a company is ready to ask for outside help and get the most out of it, he said.

Through this process, he added, companies can step out of the “dark cave, and now we can see the entire traffic pattern and we can see where to go and where to identify the opportunities.”

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