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In the startup world, one of the biggest hurdles that many entrepreneurs face today is the competition within a saturated market. While there is never a single formula to cope with the competition, the biggest mistake a CEO or business leader can make is ignoring the market all together. To be smart, strategic, and analytical about your business, you need to have a holistic understanding of both your customers and your competitors. Some startups try to alleviate this problem by partnering with their direct competitors. Others, however, try to distinguish their business in various ways from the rest of those within their field. Whatever is the case, knowing and understanding your competition will be the one of the main definers for your company’s success.

So how do you do it? What can you do to out perform the best? How can you identify your company as the game changer needed for your clients and customers?

While there may be possible ways to partner with your competition, enacting such a strategy will prevent your company from hitting and attaining new customers and profit. In my opinion, you should only do this if you cannot differentiate your product and services to the entire public. Instead, your biggest chance of dominating an already difficult market is to truly define your product. To do this, understand the competitors. Internalize their strengths and overall weaknesses and how your product can capitalize on those flaws. Take for example Apple and Microsoft. Essentially, they are the same product. The biggest difference, however, is the functionality and personalization that each company delivers for their prospective market. This would not happen if they did not understand what each company delivered in their services each and every year.

Once you are able to understand the weaknesses and flaws of your competition, try and define your product as the ‘problem-solver’ for this specific field. For many people, the decision between two products all comes down to the uniqueness the product delivers. For example, a few years ago, Samsung Galaxy phones gained much appeal for its larger screens and crisp video-streaming quality in comparison to the iPhone. However, because of that fluctuation in customers, Apple made it their goal in creating a product that met the wants and demands of their customers. This in turn led to the iPhone 6, which continues to grow based on customer needs and competition products.

After defining your product as the ‘problem-solver,’ your next step is to evaluate the overall public’s interest. To do this, try and gain some insight on what customers are looking for in the newest product. This can be done through a quick survey or an overall case study. For this to be affective, internalize your product or service’s weaknesses. This will give you the overall foundation for growth before entering into these case studies. This type of backwards thinking will not only benefit the product, but also save you time and money when bolster company’s campaign in the future.

At times, however, you may just have to be bold and take a risk. One of the most innovative changes Apple did, as a company, is that they decided to move beyond the electronics sector and focus directly within the entertainment industry. This gave the company a new and innovative direction in reinvigorating older products and tapping new clientele. For your company to grow, especially beyond that of your competitors, try embracing that idea of risk. At times, it can be questionable and downright intimidating, but if you are able to unlock the right idea, you may be redefining your company to your customers and the overall competition.