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Assessing Key Competition to Your Business

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 15 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Business Risk Assessment Craft Shops

An important part of making your new craft business successful is knowing and understanding your main competitors. So before you launch your business, here are some tips on assessing the key competition to your business.

Even though you may already have done some research whilst sussing out your business idea, skimping on competition assessment is not a wise idea. Having a clear idea of the businesses that already exist in your chosen area, the services they offer and the products they sell is vital. It gives you insight into what’s already on the market and the prices they’re selling services and goods for, but also allows you to spot any gaps that currently exist and that you, should you be willing, could potentially fill.

Finding Your Potential Craft Business Competitors

Checking out the competitors can actually be a really enjoyable part of your business research and there are many ways of going about it. In each stage of your research, don’t forget to keep copious notes, recording details of:

  • The full contact details of all the companies, including their website.
  • Whether any brochures are available.
  • If they’ve got mailing lists for customers to sign up to.
  • Whether they run craft classes.
  • Whether they have any discount schemes, offers or any other incentives.
  • The typical prices of products.
  • What types of product and which makes they stock.
  • How helpful they are if you buy a product or request information.
  • The location of the companies.
  • Whether they offer online ordering and/or mail order and how much they charge for delivery.
  • How long they’ve been trading for.

    A good starting point for finding similar businesses in your local area is to scour the relevant pages in the Yellow Pages or equivalent online directory. Also very useful is the business directory available from your local Chamber of Commerce, which will list details of businesses in your area. To obtain more details about your competitors, free company information can be downloaded online from Companies House.

    Visiting the websites or shops in person is very worthwhile, as you can see for yourself what they sell, what they charge and how friendly they are. It’s also possible to gauge popularity by visiting the shop at different times and on different days and assessing how many other customers are there. If they’re a web-online business, as many craft businesses are, then sign up for any email newsletters they offer or read their blog and, if you like, order a product to test out their delivery service. You don't have to identify yourself as a potential business competitor, so just act like a normal customer.

    These days there are a lot of craft forums and discussion sites on the Internet, so you could go one step further by asking crafters what they think about the products and services currently available and if there’s anything that’s missing. If certain shops are specifically named, either in positive or negative terms, it will help you in your research.

    Evaluating Your Findings

    Once you’ve obtained all your information, it’s time to evaluate it. By now you should have a much clearer idea of what’s already being offered, or not, in your business area and should be able to get a good picture of whether the current market is saturated or not.

    Even if you discover more businesses and craft shops than you were previously aware of that are already supplying the market, don’t be put off. It’s good to know about competitors in advance as part of your risk assessment considerations and there may still be ways in which you could add to the market.

    In fact, one important element of evaluating your findings is to look at the strengths and weaknesses of what’s currently available. Did you discover failings that you think you could build on, or perhaps you’ve discovered a huge gaping hole in the market that you could fill? Either way, spend as much time as possible looking at your findings – even if you don’t initially see a gap, ideas may spring to mind the more you look at it.

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