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Keep Your Business Planning One Step Ahead of the Competition

Most likely, your competitors’ moves will build on their strongest capabilities. You want to be one step ahead with your business plan. For example, a competitor whose strength is in research and development may be planning to develop and introduce a new product or a competitor strong in marketing and sales may have plans to undertake a market expansion.

More often than not, companies compete in the following ways:

  • Lower prices

  • Better service

  • Highly targeted customer focus and interaction

  • Unique and attention-getting products or services

As you create your business plan, keep in mind the strongest competitive advantage held by your business and by each of your major competitors. Then, to compete in today’s environment, plan to build upon your established area of strength while boosting additional strengths to win and keep customers. For example, become known for price plus service, for service plus expanded customer focus, for tailored customer solutions plus competitive pricing.

As examples of well-known businesses that are adding to their competitive strengths, look at the recent strategies of McDonald’s, which added customer-responsive coffee shop and wine bar offerings, and Walmart, which added a new focus on green products to its established low-price position.

Describe each major competitor’s strongest suit or key capability — along with the strategic move you think each competitor is likely to make in the next year or so. By thinking through the possibilities, you can fine-tune your business plan and prepare yourself for the competitive challenges ahead.

In your business plan, include a description of your competitive environment, including the strengths, capabilities, and likely moves of major competing businesses, to your business plan. This information will influence all your other business planning.

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