Valiant CEO Eamonn O’Kane featured on Boston Biz Journal Expert Panel
Updated: Feb 4
Got competition? 3 leader-recommended tips for handling business competitors
Image: L-R: Eamonn O’Kane, Rushik Mehta, Sandy Lish No matter how unique your business idea is, chances are pretty good that someone else is doing something similar. Though they may have a slightly different product or service offering or maybe you specialize in different areas of a broader skill set — ultimately they are competing with you for the same types of customers.
This can be a daunting prospect for new business owners, especially those who face a lot of competition from local companies in the same market. However, there are some smart strategies you can follow to differentiate your business from its competitors. You may even be able to collaborate with them on a combined solution to better serve your target market.
To help you handle your competition, we asked three members of Boston Business Journal Leadership Trust to share their best tips. Follow their advice to stand out and earn new business.
Identify your actual competitors.
Let’s say you’re opening a restaurant. You might think that every single other food establishment in your local area is a competitor, but look more closely. Most of the other restaurants near yours are probably not direct competitors. If your restaurant serves vegan food, for instance, the steakhouse down the block is certainly not catering to the same audience.
This is why Eamonn O’Kane, founder of development, consulting, management and contracting firm Valiant Group, recommends doing sufficient due diligence to verify and identify your true competition.
“Are they really competition?” O’Kane says. “If so, what makes you different or can make you different? Then put into place the mechanism to get the information required to your target audience, deliver the differentiating details concisely and to why you are the best option open to the client.”
Be truthfully unique.
Businesses can also set themselves apart by focusing on the unique value of what they offer their clients and how those offerings fulfill a need.
When considering the competitors of his experiential travel agency, Coddiwomple Journeys, founder Rushik Mehta always asks himself one question: Will my products or services make my clients lives easier, help them find quicker solutions or deliver a unique experience that my competitor can’t match?
“I only introduce products to market that I know can stand this test,” Mehta explains. “Being truthfully unique about the added value you can provide your customers is how you can easily handle competition.”
Don’t overthink what others are doing.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes the best way to deal with your competitors is to simply acknowledge them and keep doing your thing.
As the principal and founder of a PR, event management and digital marketing firm, Sandy Lish knows this well. Like many agencies in a major city, Lish’s company, The Castle Group, has a lot of local competition. While it’s important to be aware of what your competitors are doing, she says it’s important to not get distracted by them.
“Don’t make it a competition,” says Lish. “Know and communicate your differentiating factors and stay true to what you’re good at. You know your strengths, so embrace them.”
By Boston Expert Panel Boston Business Journal Leadership Trust is an invite-only network of influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in Boston.