Competitive Intelligence for
Small Businesses & Start-ups
(How Competitive Intelligence brings success to small businesses and start-ups)
Competitive Intelligence and Mystery Shopping are research techniques that are often associated with large, established businesses looking to get an edge on their competitors. What is often overlooked is that the same techniques can be used by small businesses and start-ups to make informed decisions to develop their business plans and improve their chances for success.
Competitive Intelligence: a low-cost option to get the winning edge
Competitive Intelligence is a research technique that can quickly provide the entrepreneur with real-world information at a relatively low cost.
Whether you are thinking of starting an e-business or a set up shop in a traditional bricks-and-mortar location, Competitive Intelligence can provide a business owner with vital information on:
- Size of the market and growth trends;
- Competitor assumptions and business blind spots;
- Spending habits of different market segments;
- Legislation affecting a business;
- Competitors: what they do well and where they fall short, and what you can learn for their successes and failures;
- Barriers to entry: costs, number of competitors, trends in market size;
- Trends and technologies that may impact your business, positively and negatively;
- Ideas on what you can do to set yourself apart, stand out from the crowd, and “change the rules of game”.
Research For E-Commerce Sites
For a new e-business, intelligence research may include the following information points:
- The number of competitors;
- How long they have been in business;
- Where is their location;
- Product & service range;
- Ease of use of their website: speed and easy to navigate;
- Payment Options available: Credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, etc.;
- Where do they deliver, locally, nationally or internationally;
- Visitors sign up for a newsletter or special deals;
- Delivery options: regular or expedited;
- Allows tracking of deliverables.
Research For Bricks-and-Mortar Locations
Using a new restaurant as an example, intelligence research may look into the following:
- Legislation (national, provincial and local) that may affect your business;
- Location viability: demographics, foot traffic and spending habits;
- Peak and slack periods during the year, week and day;
- How many;
- How many years in business;
- Whether they are successful;
- Ambiance, lighting and signage;
- Menus: type of menu, quality, pricing, etc.
- Payment options;
- Brands offered;
- Single site or multiple sites;
- Dine-in, delivery and pick-up options;
- How are customers treated;
- Speed of service;
- Offerings include Non-GMO and Fair Trade products.
Competitive Intelligence can provide small businesses and start-ups with relatively inexpensive but vital insights for smart, informed decision-making.
If you’re a small business owner or preparing to launch a start-up company, does it not make sense to take advantage of this valuable research tool?