Insights & Advice

Four rules for new businesses competing in an established market.

You’ve started a business in a market with some already established players. You know you can compete on product and service but no-one knows who you are. It’s hard, it’s frustrating and it’s unfair.

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf

You wouldn’t be blamed for doing what most businesses in this position spend time doing in their early years, frightened of appearing too small, too inexperienced or too “new” to the market to attract new clients or acquire new customers. You may resort to exaggerating the truth, or steering clear of saying anything that might draw attention to your newness in order to get your clients to trust you.

Trust! Isn’t that ironic. In my experience, trust is earned, and you’re not getting off to a great start by pretending to be something you’re not.

“But” I hear you say,”the important thing is I got them to speak to me first. Now I can win them over.”

Your counter argument may be that you’ve got their attention, now you can do the hard sell! But, arguably you’ve now got to work harder to change the perception you have created. Why spend all of this effort trying to convince potential customers of something you are not.

With these four rules you really can’t go wrong

I’ve been fortunate to work with many businesses and to own a few myself, and this is what I’ve learned:

  1. Be honest
  2. Be genuine
  3. Be hard working
  4. Be fair

The saying goes, “honesty is the best policy” and it turns out whoever said that was right. If your heart is in it and you’re passionate about what you do, 9/10 times you’ll attract customers who love this about you, and work with you, not against you.

Hard work always pays off. Nothing is ever easy, so show your clients how hard you are working, your process and let them become involved. And be fair; something that I think encompasses all good business, value for money. If clients and customers feel like they’re getting a fair deal, I promise you, the result will always be better for everyone.

There are of course other benefits to being new to a market or not having an established brand in a particular industry. It’s actually harder to change perceptions when you do. You have the advantage of moving, changing and pivoting more freely.

You have an “unfair” advantage

Combined with the rules above, you’ve got off to a great start. But there is a lot of untapped potential still to be unlocked, and I’m just scratching the surface here.

Something you have that the established companies don’t is agility; you can mould your services to a particular client. Your services AREN’T set in stone, you DON’T have the overheads, the logistics, the baggage.

What was your disadvantage is actually one of your many advantages and if you’re honest with clients about that, and demonstrate it well, it’s actually quite appealing.

The moral here is stop pretending, be proud of what you do and embrace where you are. You may well be surprised with the results.

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