Being a very young, niche service provider in South Africa, I’m very concerned about competition. I heard about a fairly well known American company doing TFS and Visual Studio consulting and training, busy establishing a presence in South Africa: you know that sinking sensation that a person gets?!
Not long after this I was speaking to Paul Hacker who hosts TFS, and noticed that there was yet another company that has just started hosting TFS in the States. I forwarded him the details and we got to chatting around the subject of competition.
Between our discussion and reflecting on my actions after I heard about the competition coming into this country, I have concluded that:
Competition is not always that bad.
Sure it gives you less of a market and it means that you need to start working even harder for business, but primarily I think you should take a step back and re-evaluate yourself, your market proposition and your target market.
You could decide to redesign your offering to be more applicable, or have a more focussed approach to your existing market, or even address those tasks that you had on your backlog that suddenly becomes top priority because your competitor is doing it..
Either way you would need to streamline your business and have a more focussed vision, ensuring an environment where the “customer wins” .
Another option is to consider an alliance or partnership of sorts. One of my friends who runs his own successful business told me that “A competitor is not always a competitor”. You could leverage each other and learn from each other to enhance your own portfolio and strengthen your own brand.
Even though I’m still very wary of competition, that sinking feeling has subsided. I have redesigned my offerings, focussing on, and better structuring areas that were a bit neglected. All in all I think creating a more holistic offering.
BTW: I actually met and had a chat with the president of “the competition” and it turns out he is not such a bad person after all