Keep Your Business Planning One Step Ahead of the Competition
As you create your business plan, keep in mind the strongest competitive advantage held by your business and by each of your major competitors. Most likely, your competitors’ next moves will build on their strongest capabilities. 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:
Highly targeted customer focus
Unique and attention-getting products or services
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 health-conscious menu options without sacrificing its market position, and Walmart, which added a new focus on green products to its established low-price position.
List the key capabilities and future moves of your biggest competitors on this form to fine-tune your business plan accordingly. Describe each 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 battles ahead.