How & Why Startups Must Do Competitor Research

Competitor research. Everyone knows it’s an important part of entrepreneurial success, but how many understand the advantage competitive intelligence provides? Software creation is only part of the equation for building a successful startup. The other part of the equation is business analysis. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t know how to properly do competitor research.

That’s where we can help. We provide startup solutions to help new businesses get off the ground. Our first stop is competitor research. Competitive intelligence for startups can separate you from the heard and avoid sending your idea to the slaughterhouse.

What precisely is competitor research? What are the best competitor research strategies for quality information? And what are some ways you can successfully use it to benefit your business idea? For an answer to these questions, let’s break them apart and see how they might benefit your startup.


What is Competitor Research?

Competitor research is more than just a buzz-phrase. It is also more than just a way to out-do your competition. It is a method of discovery, education, and growth.

The mission of research your competition is to assess the performance of businesses in your niche. This process reveals steps for success, challenges along the way, and expectations. Unfortunately, for many startups, competitiveness simply isn’t in their nature. All they focus on is how amazing their software or product is and how they cannot wait to get it to market. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with that, you are more likely to do competitor research if view it as an opportunity to grow.

You don’t have to be a cut-throat, 007 spy to take advantage of competitive analysis. You just have to want to grow and evolve your idea. It is not surprising when new business owners claim they don’t need competitor research. Some folks might even say they don’t have direct competitors. These folks are not paying attention. If this is truly the case, either your product has competitors and you aren’t aware of them or your idea is so random that few in the market will be interested in it. Neither option is good.

At the end of the day, competitor research involves analyzing your market and industry to see where you stand. You will look at various factors that could have a dramatic impact on the success of your idea. This process sets you up for success.


Why Does Competitor Research Matter to Startups?

Now that you know what competitor research is, the next question you might have is, why do I as a startup need to do it. The answer is simple because you don’t want to fail.

Excitement over an innovative piece of software, product, or service is warranted, but it could overwhelm your rational mind. This could leave you vulnerable to competition. Even the most innovative idea has a counter component. Understanding the environment surrounding your idea gives you a clearer picture of how to standout. That’s where competitive intelligence plays a role. This is particularly important if you are looking for investors, either now or in the future. Without data to show how strong your idea is, many investors will move on. Competitive analysis gives you the data needed to turn your idea into a successful business venture.

Startups, entrepreneurs, and new businesses are most in need of high-quality competitor research. Without it, you can fall flat in a world exploding with innovative ideas.

Strategies to Access Competitor Information

Of course, knowing that you need competitor research is only half the battle. Accessing competitor information is another challenge. If you are wondering how to do competitor research, this section is for you. There are several grass roots strategies that give you the bigger picture when it comes to sales. Other strategies involve understanding the methods your competition is using to be successful. We have listed examples of both below.

Reach out to their customers.

Even if you are in a B2B industry, gain access to a few of your competition’s customers. Then give them a call. Ask them what they like about what your competitor is offering and what they dislike. See why and how they chose your competitor over alternatives. This back-and-forth exchange can give you amazing insight into how to market and present your idea.

Research their products or services.

Depending on your industry this can be a great way to familiarize yourself with what’s out there. You’d be surprised by how few entrepreneurs do this when it is one of the simplest ways to explore competitive products or services. Compare your offerings to theirs and ensure what you are offering stacks up or surpasses theirs.

Explore their websites.

Websites are incredible resources for company information. Be sure to explore their about us page to see if they offer timelines on when they developed or made changes to their software. Sometimes this information is enough to help you avoid disaster in development.

Evaluate their content.

Another overlooked area for competitive research is evaluating the content they put out. Use it to see how their ads, articles, social media, and blogs compare to your own. This can help you determine what opportunities you have to help outperform your competitors. By evaluating their content you can gauge what type of image you are competing against and preview their target market.

Google them.

See where else your competition is showing up online. Then see if you can detect their Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats from that information. You might find this information is press releases, media coverage, a guest post on another blog or even from social media. Analyze it all for a thorough representation of your competition.

How to Maximize Competitor Research

Whether you are in the business of software creation or provide a service, once you are armed with this information, the next step is to maximize it to your benefit. If you are looking for venture capital, it is critical to include this business analysis in your business strategy. The goal should be to distinguish your business from the rest. It should prove your value through data and it should highlight your true value as a startup. Build your business plan with competitor research in mind and don’t ignore red flags that pop up during your research. If your product needs to be tweaked, tweak it. It will save you time, energy and money.

Competitor research gives you a leg up on the competition. It can help you iterate a better product. It is the first building block of a successful startup or company. Don’t overlook it. Use this information to develop your competitor research strategies.


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