Small businesses often fail because of their inability to take into account the actual competition. The competition is usually tougher in fields where a number of small businesses are jostling for space and have more or less similar products or services on offer.

To survive in that competition and rise ahead of competitors is a real challenge for small business owners. To do this, you need to study and analyze your competition right from the beginning.

Here are a few tips that will help you beat your rivals:

1. Do market analysis

Keep a close check on your competitors. Watch out for the new products they are planning to sell, the pricing of the products or services, how these products are being launched, promoted or advertised and how the competitor companies are planning to reach them out to the target customer base.

These indicators give you a clear picture of the areas your competitors have a grip on and the areas where you can be one up.

Get a copy of your competitor's product brochures and catalogs and study them carefully.

A thorough market analysis of your competitor’s products or services will help you get a good idea of their popularity, customer support and brand loyalty.

Also, get a good idea about the price-points of your competitors’ products. If possible, buy a few of their products for testing.

This will help you study a few crucial things – the quality of your competitor’s products, their pricing, their packaging, their retail distribution and their customer support.

Now check your product/service. How well does it face up to that of your competitor? Comparing your competitors products/services with what you have on offer will give you a fair idea what your products lack and what you can do to improve them.

2. Study your competitors' website

Examine your competitors' website carefully. Make it a point to read the “Products” page regularly to see if new products are introduced.

Check out the descriptions of the products or services your competitors are offering, prices, clients list, testimonials and so on.

This will give you an idea of how they position themselves and what their strengths are. From time to time, also check for any new Press Releases your competitors are sending to media for the launch of their new products or services.

3. Keep yourself updated with newsletters and seminars

Always keep yourself updated with magazines related to your area of business and newsletters from your competitors.

Reading about competitive and new products in your industry can enlighten you on new things or technologies related to your business which you may not have been aware of.

In fact, reading about new initiatives by your competitors will inspire you to take your business to a higher level.

Apart from this, do attend various seminars and trade shows where you can meet new people and make new contacts.

4. Be innovative & give free offers

Customers always look for products that are unique and are of better quality. Make sure you are the first one in the market to launch new unique products that also offer value to the customers.

In addition, if your competitors are giving free offers, make sure you don't stay behind. You can give away free products during trade shows which your customers will view as value for money.

5. Join a corporate association

As a business owner, you cannot operate in a vacuum. In order to succeed, you need to be a member of some professional association where you can get new ideas which you can implement in your business.

You can join a CEO association or a CEO club where you get the opportunity to meet experienced CEOs or Presidents from non-competing industries who might have faced the same situations like you are currently facing.

Such experts guide you with sound advice and since they are from non-competing industries, they can offer you the most unbiased, honest and practical solutions and suggestions.

CEO peer groups or CEO clubs are a great way of getting a no-holds-barred practical advice from your peers on how to analyze the competition and find solutions to stay ahead of the competition.

Author's Bio: 

Tom Bordon is a freelance writer who writes about business management, strategy planning, exit planning, CEO conferences and other entrepreneurial challenges. His articles focus on guiding CEOs, COOs on how to manage their businesses better and benefit from advice and tips gained from CEO peers at CEO association or CEO club.