Starting a small business is incredibly challenging under the best circumstances. There are many advantages to running a small business. It gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to pursue their passions and allows them to have control over how their company is run and the type of job they’re really pursuing. However, no matter how great an entrepreneur’s concept is, it’s difficult to present any business idea that is truly unique. It’s almost inevitable that a business will face competition one way or another; the average business is going to have 25 different competitors.
While competition is good in some ways, forcing you to rise to the challenge and build a stronger business, there’s still a chance that your competitors will take consumers — and profit — away from you. Therefore, it’s important that you know as much about the competition as possible. This informed approach will make it easier for you to rise to the occasion and offer the kinds of alternatives that will help you win out in the long term. However, gathering intelligence about the competition must be done carefully, efficiently, and of course legally. This is why many companies seek out professional competitive intelligence services, which will not only provide the customized competitive intelligence you need but analyze it properly and offer suggestions.
What Is Competitive Intelligence?
Before looking into competitive intelligence services, it’s important to understand the concept of competitive intelligence fully. Essentially, competitive intelligence utilizes multiple different types of channels to gather data. This data is provided as a resource that will enable the recipients to make more educated decisions moving forward than they might otherwise. Competitive intelligence doesn’t always refer specifically to gathering intelligence about competitors. It can more generally refer to the gathering of intelligence about the environment beyond the company, as there are many other relevant aspects that can affect a company’s competitiveness. It can be easy for a company to focus too much on internal processes, which makes it more difficult for outside factors to be properly considered. Competitive intelligence helps companies avoid this pitfall, and therefore leads to stronger results overall.
What’s The Difference Between Competitive Intelligence And Espionage?
Most small business owners are probably familiar with corporate espionage or industrial espionage, which is illegal. At first glance, they may worry that there is too much of a similarity between competitive intelligence reporting and espionage tactics. However, the two are quite different. Industrial espionage often takes the form of acquiring intellectual property. This is usually done through illegal or deceptive means, as few companies are willing to give up intellectual property to the competition knowingly. It can also involve blackmailing, bribery, or even surveillance. Competitive intelligence services, on the other hand, are reliant upon information that is legally available and external rather than internal. The information gathered and analyzed does not involve trade secrets or intellectual property. This, of course, is one reason why working with competitive intelligence services is so important. A professional firm will only provide intelligence that is legally and ethically acquired. More amateur attempts may break rules and at the very least cause conflict with competitors unintentionally.
How Is Competitive Intelligence Market Research Conducted?
In this day and age, competitive intelligence like market trends can be gathered through internet searches. The internet can also be used to gather primary source information, including information that the competition releases publicly. Social media and online databases can also be important sources. Consumers can be surveyed online too; however, competitive intelligence can also be gathered in person through marketing events. Equally important to the gathering of this information, of course, is the manner in which the information is synthesized.
Once this information is gathered and synthesized, proper recommendations can be made regarding how a company can become more competitive. This does not mean “copying” the competition, but simply making your own tactics as appealing to consumers at large as possible. Without competitive intelligence reporting, it’s impossible for a company to break into the market on a truly competitive level.