Are you all set to embark on a new business, be it online or something more traditional? If so, good for you. However, before you take the plunge, take a little time to step back and make sure you’ve really done your homework on your industry and competitors.

A bit of pre-launch and on-going competitive intelligence can help you avoid mistakes and also help identify further opportunities that you could exploit.

So, what is competitive intelligence? If you’re setting up a new company in any field, you need to know who your competition are and what they are doing.

The saying goes that there are no new ideas and the chances are, you will be looking to compete in a market in which there are already suppliers. However, you just need to think smarter and be better to carve out your own space. And this is where your analysis comes in.

All companies have to register with Companies House and file publicly-accessible financial documents. You are therefore able to use free online services to check out the health of your competitors and research the people behind the businesses. Financial results can be downloaded and you can also see any red flags against the company for any past transgressions. This is also great research if you ever think of teaming up with another individual or company.

Competitive analysis is also about knowing your competitors’ offerings inside-out. Keep an eye on their product cycle and subscribe to all their marketing, be it email marketing or their social media feeds. Also make sure you are familiar with their pricing model so that you can either set your prices competitively or have justification ready for any questions that potential customers may ask if you appear to be charging more for a product or service. You will need to justify it and communicate the benefits and value that your company offers over other services.

The more you know about your industry and competitors, the more adept you will become at spotting potential gaps in your market. If you can be the company that is leading the way rather than constantly reacting to others, the chances are you will be more successful. Spotting opportunities and grabbing them is an art that could set your business apart and competitive intelligence is one tool to make it slightly easier.

Using documents that are in the public domain while keeping an eye on your industry before you launch and then continuously once you are up and running should ensure that your new business has a higher chance of success that the many others that launch every year.

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