Competitors: Keep Up Or Go Your Own Way?

By   /  
July 31, 2017

There comes a point in the life of your small business where you have to make a decision.

Are you going to try and keep up with your competitors; or are you going to do things your own way?

It’s the kind of question that is notoriously difficult to answer, because there is no right or wrong answer – there’s just the answer that’s going to work best for your business. Of course, when you begin contemplating either decision, it’s almost impossible to tell which option is going to be best for your company.

Let’s run through a scenario to better explain the quandary many business owners find themselves in.

Your competitors have launched a New Product. It’s something you could produce your own version of; there’s no legal barriers, no trademarks, no patents to be concerned with. However, it would cost you a lot of money to produce it. Even though you can see it’s successful for a competitor, it’s not necessarily what you would have thought of doing for yourself.

In this situation, you have a tough decision to make: do you keep up, or do your own thing?

If you decide to keep up then there are plenty of benefits to be had:

  • You’re going to ensure your customers know that you’re willing to move with the times and are thoroughly up-to-date.
  • You’re going to open up new avenues to explore for your business. Who knows, your version of the product might be a huge hit and you’ll make more from it than you had ever dreamed might be possible.
  • A little risk never hurt anyone, and there are various funding solutions available to you as well. You have investors waiting or you’re aware that SR&ED claims can be dealt with relatively simply; so you have the funds in place to take a chance.

On the flip side, if you decide to go your own way, then you’re going to benefit from:

  • Sometimes, it can be good to stand out as an outlier. It can give your business a chance to appear unique, especially if there is something else new and innovative that you’re going to be launching anyway.
  • You steer clear of being accused of copying anything that your competitors are doing. Even if there is no legal risks to doing so, it could raise a few hackles if you do something similar to a recent innovation from a rival business.

Given that both methods have their benefits, how can you possibly choose which is going to be right for your business?

It all depends on something very important: your brand identity. If your brand is based around the idea of being cutting edge, always on the pulse, never knowingly left behind – then it might be wisest to jump on the bandwagon and match your competitors. Avoid anything that could result in your business being perceived as outdated.

On the flip side, if your branding is more about being innovative and unique, then it’s best to pursue your own interests – regardless of what the competitors are doing.

When you decide which identity is the better fit for your company, the rest of the decisions should fall into place from there.

Do your thing or race to catch up? You decide.