Almost every business landscape is fiercely competitive, creating a need for any business to develop and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage in order to survive. One of the most important strategic pathways that a company can take once they are no longer a start-up is to undertake steps that get them ahead of the competition, hopefully sustainably. Here is how you can achieve this.
Know Them Inside Out
Like the famous quote from The Godfather: “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” This mentality is especially important in business. You need to know your competitors inside out and a key way of doing so is to be close to them. Some companies even resort to corporate espionage—a murky world where spies are hired to get an edge over the competition—which illustrates the importance of having a great knowledge of your competitors.
Don’t Be Predictable
Expect your competitors to be paying exactly as much attention to you as you are to them, and a great way to throw them is to try your hardest not to be predictable. Some of the best poker players are those who inject a healthy dose of randomness into their strategy and that’s because their success depends on their competitors being unsuccessful at predicting their strategy. It’s the same with business—make sure that you think laterally and try to implement actions outside the box wherever you can.
Look for Predictiveness in Competitors
Hopefully, your competitors won’t be as random as you strive to be. You should look at your competitors’ moves, analyze the directions that they’re going in, and try to get there first. They will likely be going for a long-term strategy in order to gain an advantage over you, and every move they make might give away what that strategy might be. You should ask yourself how your competitors have reacted to the decisions that you’ve made, as well as which alternatives are at their disposal. Once you know their alternatives, you’ll also be in a great negotiating position as their BATNA will be given away.
Focus on Quality
While you’re making your next moves, you should also ensure that your current strategy is as successful as it can possibly be. One way of doing this is by using quality management software to develop an overall quality management approach that will ensure that your products or services are better than those of your competitors at the current juncture.
The Trump Card: Disruption
One of the most significant cards you can play is that of the disruptor—making a change to the industry that sends seismic shifts throughout the business. A good example of an excellent disruption move came from Netflix, who were offering a similar DVD postal service to many companies throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. They changed the game when they focused their energies on streaming—leaving massive competitors including Blockbuster in their wake. Disrupting an industry is never easy to do, but you should always be on the lookout for disruption opportunities, as they will likely shatter your competitors’ long-term plans.