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Know Your Competition
Building the Dream
Building a successful business is not just about marketing. It’s about offering a product or service in a market that is not being adequately served. It is about innovation and understanding what customers want.
Opening just another coffee shop or book store or computer repair place is just…more of the same. A savvy entrepreneur has the smarts to know s/he needs to offer something competitors in the area do not.
My son wrestled competitively for more than 12 years. He started out as a small, skinny kid of four or five, just having fun. By the time he was in high school, the game had changed for him. It was still fun. But it was different. He had developed a passion.
During wrestling season, he lived it and breathed it. He lost weight. He worked out. He lifted weights. He wrestled everybody within arm's reach, including his sisters, their boyfriends, and me. He taunted basketball players. And, he was serious about the taunting. They were somehow less than wrestlers. He dreamed about wrestling. He hopped around on his toes and punched the air.
Passion is essential to a thriving business. It may be the one thing that sets an entrepreneur apart from the competition, but passion alone is not enough.
Make a Solid Plan
Know Your Competition
My son learned to study the opponent, to be in the game before the match, to watch his competitor for strengths and weakness. Every wrestler has a personal style. He studied them. He memorized their style. He organized a game plan. He hopped, punched, and strutted around every stinking humid gym in the league, making a show of his confidence.
He was watching. Seeing how his opponent acted on the mat. The take-downs. The reversals. The bridging. The escapes. He knew them. After each match, he helped them up, hugged them, and raised his arm in victory. Many of them were better wrestlers. Many of them were much stronger. He beat them because he knew their game.
Know your opponent. Understand your competition. Get your head in the game.
Know Your Market
Assuming all your business know-how ducks are in a row and that you understand location is king, knowing the market and competition are essential.
Joel Wiggins, chief executive of the Enterprise Center of Johnson County, a business incubator in Lenexa, Ks. says,
"The better an entrepreneur understands the target audience, the more
likely he or she is to create products and services that buyers are willing to pay for. It sounds simple enough, but that critical edge, whether gained from experience or market research, can separate failing companies from successful ones."
Pulling It All Together
Passion and ambition are great motivators but putting the right business in the right location and offering something your competition doesn’t—are the keys.
To make things even more difficult for the passionate entrepreneur with a giant dream, being different is not enough either.
Team TSE reports on theselfemployed.com,
“One error far too many small business owners make is mistaking passion for business acumen. There are two parts to any business: 1) The part you love to do, that thing that got you in it in the first place, and 2) everything else — the hiring and firing, doing the books, advertising, and all the rest.
If you want to stick around for the long haul, be passionate, yes, but also learn all of those other things. That is what makes you a real business person.”
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