Late last spring, a new business came to town. The business has a competitor in every town in the valley.
When they opened, the obvious question had to be “Why do we need another one?”
Doesn’t matter. The question is irrelevant.
Even if the existing competitors are the best in the world, is there no room for improvement?
Does it mean that these world class competitors address 100% of the market for their product/service?
If they aren’t the best in the world at what they do and they aren’t continuously improving, like Jello, there’s always room for another. Especially if they are hungrier than you. None of the existing businesses in this niche “deserve” to own it. That’s something everyone in business earns every day. The right to survive to try again tomorrow. The right to improve. The right to dominate.
But the new business had advantages. They had no baggage. They could hand-pick their staff. Like their competitors, they all had experience in their line of work.
The biggest advantage? Not knowing what they couldn’t do. Not being tied down by “we’ve never done it that way before” thoughts. Isn’t that just a bunch of touchy-feely garbage? Maybe. Read on, then decide.
I don’t know how this new business is doing financially, but I suspect they’re doing ok because they continue to add to their staff. Their competitors, at least the ones I keep an eye on, are doing more of things these 10 “new kids” are doing. The same things that were previously ignored for reasons only they can try to explain to their customers.
By now, I suspect you are thinking “So what? Why do I care?”
Simple. This could happen to you. Tomorrow.
Are you ready for it?
If you started your business over tomorrow, with new employees, no baggage, nothing preventing you from being whatever “start of the art” is in your line of work – can you think of 3 things (or 5, or 10) that you would do differently than you’re doing now?
Why aren’t you already doing them?
Doing them now is what insulates you from those 10 whipper snappers who move back to town with big ideas and make your business look like it’s asleep at the wheel, or worse.
That reminds me of a conversation I had a while back with a guy here in the Flathead. He’s a business owner, so it was fairly natural for him to ask what I do. My reply was “Among other things, I ask business owners questions they can’t answer.”
My reply is designed to challenge the business owner and get them interested in the “Oh really? Well, try and stump me” game, which is exactly what he did.
The question I asked? “If 10 young, energetic, motivated, well-trained people with experience in your line of work came to the Flathead tomorrow and started a business that competes with yours, what would they do that you aren’t doing now?”
I asked a few other questions that revolved around things that I knew this owner didn’t do, noting that a new business in that line of work probably would do them. I don’t know what this owner has done since then, but in their crowded market, it’s just a matter of time until a competitor, old or new, does these things.
No matter what your business does, it is entirely possible that the next 10 experienced professionals coming to the Flathead are here to compete with you. If you’re the Sliter’s, Western Building, Ace, Ziggy’s, etc in your market, tomorrow could be the day that your market’s version of Lowe’s and Home Depot announce new Kalispell stores.
How do you shield yourself from them? Compete with yourself. Get the “We’ve always done it this way” out of your vocabulary. Study other markets and use their advances in your market. Consider what you’d do if you were starting over in your market – and do it.
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