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Competitive Analysis

competitive analysis should provide the entrepreneur with information about how competitors market their business and ways to penetrate the market by entry through product or service gaps in areas that your competitors do not serve or do not serve well. More importantly, competitive analysis helps the entrepreneur develop a competitive edge that will help create a sustainable revenue stream. For example, a big company like Walmart primarily competes on price. Small companies typically cannot compete on price, since the internal efficiencies and volume sales available to large corporations like Walmart are not available to small companies, but they may be able to compete successfully against Walmart on some other important variable such as better service, better-quality products, or unique buying experiences.

When preparing the competitive analysis, be sure to identify your competitors by product line or service segment. For an entrepreneur, this activity can be difficult when the industry does not yet exist. In the case of Bee LovePalms Barber didn’t have direct competitors, but she did have related competitors of traditional skin care products. Her unique idea of all-natural, honey-based skin care products created a new market. The competitive analysis might need to focus on substitute products rather than direct competitors. There are two main tools used in analysis of competitors: a competitive analysis grid and the “three circles” approach.

Competitive Analysis Grid

The competitive analysis grid should identify your competitors and include an assessment of the key characteristics of the competitive landscape in your industry, including competitive strengths and weaknesses and key success factors.

provides an example of what a competitive analysis might look like for a bicycle shop in a tourist locale.

As you complete an analysis for your venture’s competitors, identify what contributes to the competitor’s success. In other words, why do people purchase from the company? Some possible reasons include no nearby competitors, lower prices than competitors, a wider variety of products, offering services not offered elsewhere, or branding and marketing that appeals to the target market. Your analysis should inform you of a combination of key success factors within the industry (what it takes to be successful in the industry) and of what your competitors are not offering that is valued by your target market.

Another frequently used tool is a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), which focuses on analyzing your venture’s potential and builds on the knowledge gained from the competitive analysis grid and the three circles. You will need to identify the strengths your venture will need to support the competitive advantage identified through the competitive analysis tools. The weaknesses can be identified based on your current and foreseeable expectations. For a new venture, the opportunities and threats sections are based on current factors in the external environment that come from your research. In this context, opportunities are facts, changes, or situations within the external environment that could be favorably leveraged for the venture’s

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