Sustainable competitive advantage is, aside from being a perfect storm of corporate buzzwords, something with which many business owners would love to have. The world is always changing and the same goes for business – companies grow and evolve constantly. So how do you gain and then keep a competitive advantage?
Literally every other facet on this list should be considered a second step to this one. Researching your competitors will tell you which strategies you should be employing to get an edge. Speak to companies like GlobalX Legal Solutions who specialise in legal software but can also provide software to manage your daily workflows, research competitors and organise your daily business activities. The more information on the companies you are up against, the better.
If your research indicates that your competitor’s asking price for their product is a little high, see what you can do about making your product cheaper. Are there ways to cut manufacturing costs whilst maintaining a certain standard of quality? You can also look at your operational costs in comparison to theirs. If you can achieve similar results with fewer personnel (to a reasonable degree, of course) then you should definitely be aiming for that.
What have you got that your competitors don’t have? Providing a wide range of services or products that the competition doesn’t yet offer is a great way to set yourself apart. Carrying an item exclusively is another way to do this, especially if the product in question is from a big name manufacturer. You could also look at your company culture – if they are very business-like, try becoming more casual in the vibe you project. Your unique selling points are what set you apart, so play them up whenever you possibly can.
You could be looking at ways to completely bypass the current market standard and start implementing entirely new, or markedly improved products or services. This strategy tends to work better for technology start-up companies looking to make a splash in the marketplace but it certainly isn’t exclusive to that industry. Again, you should be looking at your competitor’s product and assessing how you can improve upon it.
This strategy is all about streamlining your own internal processes – the easier it is for your employees to get their jobs done, the more productive they will be. It’s also about working on your customer and business interactions. If you’re a pleasure to deal with then you’ll likely build a great reputation and return business quickly. This is something many businesses struggle to get right.
These are just a few basic strategies for achieving sustainable competitive advantage. There are many more, but the key factor remains the same – adaptability. You must be able to adapt to new paradigms with speed and certainty. This will allow your business to thrive and grow with the world as it changes. If a particular strategy isn’t working, don’t be afraid to throw it out and try something else. How would you achieve sustainable competitive advantage? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.