In the same way you will study your competition, you can rest assured that they too are watching what your small business is doing. So what are they looking at?
For sure, you know they will be looking at what we’ll call the three P’s:
If you have a website, they will want to see what you are saying about the three P’s, about your company, and about your industry. Competitors may also call, or “mystery shop” in your brick-and-mortar store to make sure your offers are all genuine. They may ask about your service agreements, available financing, or other aspects of your customer support programs.
The more motivated competitors may check with mutual suppliers to see if they can learn more about your product demands or proprietary details. They will probably research the published histories of your management team. They will have read all of your press releases and promotional literature. They might access any public records pertaining to you or your business. If there is any financial information available regarding how your business is doing, they will find it and in some cases, use it against you.
In the same way that you may have “borrowed” and modified other companies’ good business ideas, your competitors are looking at your business for places where you are doing things in a smarter, profitable way than they are. They will want to adopt and adapt your best ideas, and hopefully make their own business stronger.
You should do all you can to protect your privacy and that of your employees. Use firewalls on your computers, and have established policies that secure and protect sensitive information. Though many competitors will have an interest in what you offer, you need to be aware that there might be a few who are very unscrupulous, and will do anything to beat you in business. Take careful measures to protect your business, and report any suspicious or threatening activity to the proper authorities immediately.
In general, take your competitor’s interest as a compliment. You must be doing something right, or they’d be looking somewhere else, wouldn’t they?
By looks at your current website, and/or brick and mortar, what would your competitors know about you?