I have had the privilege of working with business plans. The most interesting was the part that dealt with how entrepreneurs intended to be different from their competitors. Unfortunately, many fail to make a clear distinction about how they intend to win the market.
Starting out in business, everyone knows a business idea must be the first thing. However, business ideas don’t necessarily have to be something new altogether in the market. New ones are good if they exist. But, in our world today, it would seem that coming up with something original may be almost impossible. The trick is then, to improve on the existing idea. That’s when we talk of competitive edge.
Competitive advantage deals with how best you are going to offer products or services in a way that customers will prefer yours over your business rivals.
The idea is to win the market. Small businesses must fight winning battles if they are to make it. They must learn the art of winning and keeping customers. This should happen even prior to actually being integrated into the larger business world.
The following are highlights on how Competitive advantage can be built: according to Timothy S. Hatten in Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship and beyond 5th Edition:
To take advantage of economies of scale, large businesses usually seek to devote resources to produce large quantities of products over long periods of time. This commitment of resources limits their ability to react to new and quickly changing markets as small businesses do.
Imagine the difference between making a sharp turn in a loaded 18-wheel tractor trailer and a small pickup truck. Now apply the analogy to large and small businesses turning in new directions. The big truck has a lot more capacity, but the pickup has more manoeuvrability in reaching customers.
Close relationship to customers
Small business owners get to know their customers and neighbourhood on a personal level. This closeness allows them to provide individualized service and gives them firsthand knowledge of customer wants and needs.
Knowing customers personally can allow small businesses to build a competitive advantage based on speciality products, personalized service, and quality, which enables them to compete with the bigger businesses’ lower prices gained through mass production. For this reason, you should always remember that the rapport you build with your customers is of vital importance—it is what makes them come back again and again.
It will obviously take a lot more than competitive advantage to succeed in business since it comprises of a variety of facets and they all deserve to be addressed but that’s a topic for another day.