The market is competitive, we all know that, but what is really important is that you maintain your market edge.
You always know that you have got something right when your business concept, idea and/or how you operate is replicated by a competitor. It is a sign that you are the market leader and that your innovative thinking is respected and, at the very least, you are seen as successful in your field.
In general, where you lead your market, most competitors are a step change behind - so you need to ensure that you keep that step ahead.
To do this it is important to understand and move with the latest developments in your market. Market research is critical and essential, so you will need to invest time and effort in getting this done.
I find that training and development opportunities often provide this avenue, but I also utilise a mentor and keep strong links with experts in their fields.
It is also important to realise that, where your business model is well established and has a permanence of presence, this brings strength to your brand and confidence to your customers, but they also will have an expectation that you will be up to speed with what is happening out there. This is especially true in the field of technology.
Apple were/are the trailblazer in smartphones and, to me at least, their ground-breaking technology has been imitated by others. But the onus is on Apple to remain at the front.
Soon after Henry Ford patented the assembly line method of manufacturing, it began popping up everywhere.
And don't put it past your competition to use any method possible to copy your idea. Some actions could be potentially underhanded or even dishonest.
I recall a documentary which highlighted people employed by companies to buy products, deconstruct them and communicate their secrets so competitors could play catch-up. That said, the end message of the programme was that, had these businesses stuck to their knitting (and invested that money properly in research and development), they would likely have innovated and gained ground in the market rather than being cast as perennial followers.
Your competition may also talk a good game but, so long as you innovate and are confident in your business model, talk is just that - talk. Take confidence from your own track record and successes and, if you think you need to innovate to stay ahead, invest in it. Investment may take time, but true innovation is what will set you apart and develop strong revenue streams and margins.
There is nothing wrong per se with copying an idea but, in the end, the market will lean toward the innovator and established reputation ... it always does.
What the innovator needs to do is keep innovating, stay one step ahead and continue to be a true leader. Which is what we are here to help you do and why we have set up the Hub.
Russell Bell's Zenith Strategic Solutions a specialist Wanganui business advice and consultancy practice. Phone 021 244 2421.