5 Essential Questions to Ask About Your Business Competitors

Are you thinking of starting a new business or have you done it yet and wondered the crucial questions to ask about competition? America is a nation of entrepreneurs, and small businesses are the leading providers or work opportunities for people. We need great entrepreneurs to continue to propel the economy forward.

If you’re looking to create a start-up, you can’t succeed without understanding what is out there and what the competition looks like; nevertheless, sometimes entrepreneurs don’t know how to approach this task. The way to do it is to identify the right questions to ask.

  1. Who’s Your Competition?

The first question you want to ask is who are your competitors. You might be in a new industry, but the likelihood is that you’re not. The first thing you have to figure out is who your competition is and what they offer regarding products and services. You’ll also want to know how they position themselves in the market. If you were their customer, what would stand out for you about your competitors, their products or services?

  1. SWOT

Once you’re clear on your competitors, do a SWOT analysis. List all of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats your company can face in the marketplace. Be as objective as possible and if possible, bring in trusted advisors who can give you third-party insight. You want to understand what others outside of you and your team think about your company and its offerings.

  1. Differentiation

Think about your products and services in the context of the offerings of your competitors. Consider each of their products or services, even the ones you don’t intend to provide in your company and understand what makes your products better. If it turns out that your competitors are doing something better than you are, or plan to, then think carefully about how you can improve your offerings for the market. Think about ideas and test them, every time you have the opportunity, in the market so you can stay at least one step ahead of the competition.

  1. Customer Relations

Candidly, one of the reasons my companies have had immense success is because we prioritize exceptional customer service and relations. For my team, it’s always about relationship-building, even with our toughest customers. So, as you evaluate your company, think about what your competitors can do better for their customers since this will be an opportunity for you to offer it to them. Be highly thoughtful when you think of how you can develop a customer relations program that will blow away the competition.

  1. Price

When you’re taking your products or services to the marketplace, you have to understand how your offerings compare with those of your competitors. If you’re able to offer a product at a lower price point, is it still something that is of high quality? If, however, your prices will be higher than that of your competitors, what are you offering that will always encourage customers to want to pay a higher price for what you have on the market? When you get to the point of determining price, it is essential to have done the preceding steps because it will help you identify the right price for your product or service and also support your reasons for it.

How To Close Your Business

We often talk about in business starting or creating a company, but there’s another side to that coin. It’s not something entrepreneurs often think about, but many times there comes the point where you want to close your business. Perhaps you had a revenue amount that you wanted to achieve before you cashed out and started on another project of interest, or maybe you’ve been doing it for years, and it’s time to get the business off your hands since no one in your family is interested in taking it over.

Whatever the reason for closing your business, there are a few things you have to make sure you keep in mind as you proceed in unwinding the company.

Co-Owners: If you have any partnership and you’re looking to move out of the day to day, it goes without saying that you have to speak to any co-owners. Use the articles of organization and make sure you create a written agreement that will dissolve the company or sell it to your co-owners or someone else who will assume your part of the business.
Accounts Receivables: If you’re a sole proprietor, and you’re looking to close your business, make sure your accounts receivable are all paid and up-to-date before you inform anyone that you will be closing the company. Once you have all your payments, you can then notify your clients that you will be closing the business.
Notifications: Once you’ve gotten all of the revenue sorted, you need to close your accounts with any creditors. You’ll also want to complete dissolution papers and file those with the state where your company is located. If you have a rented office or business location, this is also the period where you will notify your office landlord and anyone else with whom your business is associated.
Protect Your Tradename: When you’re in the process of making notifications, you still want to protect your brand name and image. Cancel any licenses, permits or registrations that are in the name of your business.
Team Members: One of the toughest things to do, especially if you have an excellent team of people working with you, is to inform them that they will be losing their jobs. The best thing to do is to give as much notice as possible so people can prepare. If possible, offer severance packages, and make sure that you comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act depending on the size of your business.
Financial & Regulatory Obligations: If you have an inventory of any kind or assets, you’ll want to liquidate everything. You’ll also want to make sure that you are compliant with the state and federal tax authorities. Don’t forget to cancel your Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. For additional information about closing a business with the IRS, you can find that information here.

When you close a business, there’s a lot of work to be done, and many details to make sure are tied up. There are several resources that you can use to ensure that you have everything covered from a business and regulatory standpoint. One of the first places to visit would be the Small Business Administration, which has a great regulatory and compliance checklist for closing businesses. Another excellent source is NOLO, which also has a list for companies, which are more geared toward the business side of things.