Competition is a good thing. No, there is no typo in this statement. I did not forget the not. I firmly believe that competition in business is a good thing and that it can greatly benefit your business. American business inventor Gill Atkinson summed up the advantages of having competition in a market when he said, Thank God for competition. When our competitors upset our plans or outdo our designs, they open infinite possibilities of our own work to us.
Competition pushes us to do our best. It drives us to improve our service and product offerings. Without competition, we would have no sense of urgency or benchmark by which to measure our successes and, yes, even our failures.
Competition is everywhere in the fitness industry, from hospitals, clinics, spas, universities, employers, outdoor fitness, family fitness centers, small studios, franchises, online, videos, infomercial products and the like.
The Benefits of Competition
Competition actually grows the market for your services, which ultimately boosts your sales and allows your business to remain prosperous. A market with a strong and innovative competitor forces you to become more efficient and creative in finding ways to differentiate yourself and your services from that of the competition.
Even if your competitor is a large franchise with multiple locations and a seemingly endless budget, you are still likely to reap the rewards of their presence. This may appear to run contrary to popular opinion, but it is true. Competition regardless of how big or small pushes you to stay on your toes, get inspired and exploit your advantages to the fullest. Without competition, becoming complacent and lazy is likely. Losing customers or watching your business stagnate and fail is an even greater possibility.
Often, small businesses are particularly concerned about the competition. They fear that there simply are not enough customers to go around. This would be a valid concern if the size of your market was indeed not growing. However, this does not appear to be the case. With obesity on the rise and more and more Americans desperately searching for ways to achieve and maintain a healthier lifestyle, market share is not likely to shrink any time soon. Thus, competitors battling for a slice of that market share pie just help in making the pie bigger for everyone. How?
Competition builds consumer demand. Consumers are an odd bunch in that they actually want choices when they shop around for products and services. Surprisingly, consumers are less likely to want to buy when they only have one choice available to them. Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that competition leads to more consumer choice, which in turn triggers consumer purchases. Be the business that has positioned itself competitively to offer the right mix of services and/or products that allows you to win those consumer sales consistently, and you have positioned yourself to succeed irrespective of the number of competitors in your market.
To sum it all up, competition can do much for your business and its growth. Embrace it, and use its presence fully. To take true advantage of the benefits offered by your competitors, try to follow these proactive suggestions:
Define Your Approach to Competition
Getting the most out of a competitive relationship means that you first have to determine what the best and smartest approach is to dealing with your competitors. Is it going to be something hard-nosed, such as a take no prisoners approach, or a more pacifistic view of live and let live? Of course, you can always develop a position that is somewhere in the middle. Your approach will then likely dictate your style of doing business.
For example, if you pursue the take no prisoners approach, you will have to develop a more cutting-edge, market-leader approach to doing business, one of always looking for innovative ways to set the bar higher, with others following you. If you choose to go to the other extreme of live and let live, then your style may be more laid back and reactionary. In other words, you will likely perfect changes to your way of doing business only in reaction to what you see your competitors doing.
Watch and Learn
Sometimes, it can work to your advantage to let your competition take the lead. This is particularly true if you are thinking about offering a new service or product or maybe branching out into a new location and you are unsure what the markets response will be. By sitting back and watching what happens to the competition, you may spare yourself a few headaches and possibly save yourself some time and money in the process. Sure, that may mean that you sacrifice the right to having the first-mover advantage, but that is not always the end-all. What is important when the dust settles is who is still in the game in that eighth inning.
Allowing your competitor to move first into a new area of the market can definitely be advantageous, particularly if you are a smaller business and your competitor is a large franchise. How so? Large competitors often have the necessary resources to study and develop a market. When they go in, it is often only after exhaustive research and market analysis has been completed. It makes sense, since most only want to enter a market when they know they will have a sure-fire chance of succeeding.
A smart, smaller business could then benefit from operating nearby and tapping into that potential client base. By this time, you will have already identified your own unique selling position, which will ultimately distinguish your services and products from the competition which, of course, you were able to develop and fine-tune in large part because much of the guess-work regarding location and potential target market were already answered for you by your competitors.
Getting to know and even embracing your competition has a multitude of benefits. New services and improvements to existing services, the ability to more positively position yourself against your competitors weaknesses and finding new ways to grow your business are just a few of those advantages. Regardless of how you choose to approach your competition, do so in a way that your business can reap the full rewards found in a competitive market environment.
Do not forget the tortoise and the hare tale. Even though you might be smaller, you can execute strategies much faster then a larger organization that has layers of management.
Tom Perkins is a fitness business coach/advisor, radio host, speaker, author and certified personal trainer/fitness nutritionist with more than 30 years in the fitness industry as both a consumer, fitness professional and business coach/advisor. Having owned six startups since 1990, Tom provides fitness businesses and professionals with the systems, tools and support they need to get to the next level and beyond as well as the freedom and income to enjoy a unique quality of life. Grab a free audio of Tom discussing the latest fitness business strategies at www.megafitnessbusiness.com.