If you’re just starting out with your consulting practice or business, you may be tempted to jump right in without researching your competition. By learning about your competitors, you’re in a better position to understand your place within the market, and if there is truly a demand for the product or service you’re offering.

You’ve identified  your ideal customer, and now is the time to see what your competition is up to. Researching your competition is a great way to see how they’re positioned within your industry or niche, and how your business can stand out in a crowded industry.  Here are some key starting points for your research:

Learn Who Your Competition Is

Surprise! It may not be who you think. You can locate information about your true competitors by utilizing social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Is their product or service similar to yours? Which hashtags are they using? Is their audience the same as yours? You can glean a wealth of information from social media pages and Google searches.

What You Need To Know About Your Competition

You’ve located your competitors, now it’s time to dig a bit deeper:

  • How do they market to their clients?
  • What is their pricing structure? Is it similar to yours, or vastly different (and why)?
  • Is their ideal client or customer the same as yours?
  • What are their brand and design values?
  • Do they offer the same services, or are their services completely different from what you are offering?

Each of these areas are excellent jumping-off points for deeper research. The depth of your research will largely depend on your niche, service, how your provide your services (in person, online, or both), and how long your competition has been in business.

If you have the time and resources, you can conduct a more in-depth analysis of the market and your competition through an extensive SWOT analysis. In some cases, you can hire someone to do it for you, saving you valuable time running your business.

By analyzing your competitors, you can reduce risk and avoid costly mistakes. You’ll learn your positioning in the market in terms of specialty, pricing, and niche.

if your specialty and niche are saturated, you’ll be in a position to either consider another niche or service, or offer a unique feature your competition doesn’t.

As the business world becomes more collaborative, you may find that “competitor” is actually the mentor you’re seeking if you’re just starting out. Some established business owners are open to sub-contracting to a newer service provider.

If you choose to go this route, you can reach out via LinkedIn, social media, or through email, by establishing a relationship with them first. While you may not get a response initially, there are some business owners in your field who would be happy to mentor you and/or bring you on as a sub-contractor while you learn the intricacies of your specialty.

It can’t hurt to ask.

Understanding your competition and their place in the market is a key aspect of knowing your business’s place in the market. By understanding your competitor’s rates, social media presence, specialty, and ideal client, you’ll gain a greater understanding about your place in the market and within your niche.