If so, make nice. Offer to take your competitors out for a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch —if you talk about work it’s tax deductible—and pick their brains. How did they get started? Have they found a market for their product or service? What advice would they give to a newbie? At the same time, market yourself and your own unique angle on the product or service. If your competitors are suitably impressed, they may even send clients your way if they are too swamped to take on new business.
When starting her own therapeutic massage business, for instance, one of my friends met every other massage therapist in town, exchanged massages with them, and privately made note of their strengths and weaknesses. Then she marketed her business as an “after hours and emergency massage center.” She took care of folks who worked and couldn’t come in for a massage during regular daytime hours and people who wanted a tide-meover massage due to muscle injury, stiffness, or fatigue. Even in a heavily saturated market, my friend found an unmet need and exploited it. You must do the same for your business to succeed.
It’s also a good idea to do some Internet research. How many other people out there on the World Wide Web are offering a product or service close to yours? If the answer is many, don’t get discouraged. You’ll simply have to use your imagination to find a new take on an old business idea.
As you research, you’ll also get an idea of how much similar businesses are charging, the turn-around times they’re offering, and what kind of staying power they display.
As with local competitors, never be afraid to email an Internet competitor to introduce yourself, and ask if they would be interested in exchanging emails about how they got started and how they keep going.
You might think no one would want to help the “enemy,” but since most home-based business owners remember experiencing the same labor pains that you’re experiencing now, many are thrilled to have the chance to play the role of mentor, or midwife to continue the birth analogy.