building a successful consulting business

Don’t envy your competitors – learn from them!

No matter the industry or field, there is one thing all consultants have in common: competition. And regardless of the level of success your consulting business has already achieved, competitors are something that will either propel you forward or swallow you whole.

There is a famous quote by American poet Washington Allston that claims “the only competition worthy of a wise man is with himself”. While that is a nice sentiment, the wisest men and women in business know that studying their competition is a great strategy to finding their own success and building their growth.

While it can be easy to feel jealous of or envious our successful competitors — and, on the other hand, ignore the less successful competitors — there are a few simple strategies you can implement to ensure you continue to learn from their successes on a regular basis.

4 WAYS TO SIZE UP YOUR COMPETITION

Schedule the time: Getting in the habit of visiting your competitors’ websites and social media channels can be tricky, especially when you are busy focusing on your own business. Scheduling 10 to 15 minutes in your calendar at the beginning of each week will help you hold yourself accountable until it becomes part of your regular routine.

Sign up for their content:You’ve hit a gold mine if your competition offers free newsletters, blog posts and webinars. Sign up for this content immediately so you can stay up-to-date on what they are offering to their customers and clients.

Drop by at conferences: Do you attend conferences and workshops in your industry? Then chances are your competitors do as well. When you have time to spare, drop by their booths in-person to see if you can find out details about their business that can’t be found online.

Set up Google Alerts: Signing up for specific Google Alerts allows you to track keywords and phrases easily so you can stay up-to-date on specific conversations. If you haven’t already, set up Google Alerts for your own business and then for your competitors as well — it will help you keep tabs on who is mentioning their products, services or websites and what is being said.=

4 WAYS TO LEARN FROM WHAT YOU’VE DISCOVERED

Find the gaps:Now that you have checked out your competitors’ social media channels, blogs, newsletters and webinars, focus in on what is missing. Are there gaps in their content that you could fill? What aren’t they talking about or offering? If you can’t beat the competition’s’ strengths, targeting what they are neglecting to focus on is a great way to propel your business forward.

Don’t copy: Even though it can be tempting at times, copying what your competitors are doing is never a good strategy. This is because if you are always copying what others are doing, you will always remain one step behind them. A better strategy is to analyze their moves and decisions and then improve on them. For example, you can borrow the idea of offering free webinars, but do not repeat your competitors’ topics — offer something even better.

Listen to the reviews: If customers and clients have written reviews about your competitors, chances are these reviews will include both praise and complaints. Figure out how you can learn from this feedback as if it were your very own, because your audiences are likely very similar if not the exact same. For example, if you read that your competition is not offering a service in a specific area and this is something that their consumer wants, see if there is a way you can offer it first.

Don’t ignore the new guys: It can be tempting to solely focus on your top competitors, but it is just as important to focus on the newcomers who may not have found great success yet. These are the competitors you can often find the most innovative ideas from.

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