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Plan for the War with Your Competitors
all of your competitors, as well as the industry dynamics. That knowledge will
give you insights to pursue your own opportunity in a way that can maximize
your chance of success and proﬁtability. You can absorb your competitors’
Is the opportunity you’ve identiﬁed in a good or a bad industry? You can
use the checklist in Exhibit 10.1 to ﬁnd out.
No matter what the nature of your industry, your challenge is to ﬁgure out
how you will gain competitive advantage. When the customer has choices,
why would you be the preferred supplier? (see Chapters 15 and 21).
The Art of War was written by Sun Tzu, a mysterious Chinese warrior-
philosopher, more than 2,000 years ago.
His writings teach us to achieve
victory over our enemies through understanding the opponent’s military lead-
ership, organizational efﬁciency, vulnerabilities, momentum, strengths, and
many more parameters. This is competitor sleuthing. The more you know
about your competition, the better prepared you will be for the coming never-
ending battle. Knowledge is power!
Begin competitor sleuthing by deﬁning your geographic market. This is the
actual geographic region in which you will compete. Recall Maria’s beading
business from Chapter 5. Her business was going to be local, perhaps within
a 5- to 10-mile commuting distance of Brookline, Massachusetts. Our plastics
injection-molding business was regional; the majority of our customers and
competitors were located in New England. The geographic market for our
static-control business, in contrast, was global; we had sales representatives
and distributors in North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. My web
business, www.AngelDeals.com, is virtual and global.
Once you’ve deﬁned your geographic market, determine which ﬁrms you’ll
be competing against. For each of these, systematically analyze the following:
strengths, weaknesses, strategies, size, market share, similarities and differ-
ences of products and services, business designs (how they make money; see
Chapter 11), methods of competing, market penetration strategies, customers,
and best practices to copy.
There are many ways to obtain that information about your competitors.
Here are some that I have found useful:
Competitor Web sites: This method is immensely productive; your
signiﬁcant competitors will certainly have web sites. Use a few differ-
ent search engines, because many of them employ different searching