Coping with global competition

Like it or not if you have not prepared for competition on a global scale then you are not far away from a rude shock that can affect the viability of your business/job at any time. Its no longer your co-worker or the shop next door thats competing with you. The rules of the game have changed and are still changing as more people signup to the idea of utilizing global resources for their business.

SInce everyone has by now realized that its not something that can be wished away – how do you cope with it?

1. Focus on core competencies
Core competencies are the unique skills/products that you can deliver at the best value. Remember its the “best value” and not the “cheapest value”.

2. Branding
As competition becomes global it becomes more important to uniquely identify your firm from the others. An easy to remember logo, a cool slogan and the image of an efficient enterprise that is socially aware of the issues that your customers face can be a great help in fending off competitors and consolidating your territory. Moreover, its a great way to hold on your on against the cheap “no name brand” competition.

3. Business Efficiency
As margins are being cut due to competition don’t forget to look into your own business practices to see where you can cut the fat. Look for ways to innovate. Track all costs no matter how small and see what can be reduced by being careful and by introducing technology to help you.

4. Outsourcing
Use intelligent outsourcing to help you focus on your core business. Routine and repetitive tasks are best left to someone else. So are tasks that someone else can do for you at a lower cost without compromising your business goals.

5. Collaborate
Network with others in your industry to see if you can find ways to help fight off the competition. Look for ways to combine your skills with someone else to see if you can come up with synergies. Remember that with the right planning and approach 1+1 can also end up being 11.

6. Rinse and Repeat
This sentence occasionally found on the usage instructions of shampoos is actually a great way of conducting business. Never be 100% satisfied with what you have and what you are doing. I am not stating a entrepreneur should be a thankless idiot. As a business owner/manager you should always celebrate at your successes(no matter how small they seem to be) and put a brave face to you failures. But never let your mind sit idle. Continue to look at ways of reducing costs and improving your business. Maybe you can negotiate a better deal with you suppliers, maybe a small perk to you employees can result in better employee morale and lower turnovers.

Online networking for beginners

Social media sites are now everywhere and while the large ones(digg, facebook, myspace, ibibo) have huge fan following there are those that cater to niche groups of people. The key to utilizing social media websites for your benefit is to interact in these sites. Many people tend to ignore these websites in their online marketing/branding strategy and could not be more wrong. Social websites are today developing much like online forums and online interaction points and can be a key to improving your business visibility. Some mistakes that people make are:

1. I don’t sell online. So why bother about social media?
This is a wildly inaccurate belief with many people. You can be a carpenter or be selling table lamps. There is surely a website that either caters to your niche or has a sub-category that fits your business. With many people now starting to use the internet as a starting point of their search for a product or services it only makes sense to have an online website or a blog that is visible to those who may be searching just for you!

2. I need to be a technical wiz right?
Nothing could be further from the truth. Social media sites are developed for easy access for all. If you can use a computer and browse the internet then submitting your site link to social media sites and interacting there is hardly a difficult proposition.

3. Submit a link to the site and then wait
Wrong! Social sites are what their name suggests them to be – social. Its not an ad site where you place a link and then go to sleep. Its a place where you share your opinions, join like minded groups, give comments on other posts and so on. A number of people will only get to know about you (and incidentally about your products and services) when they see your name in the people who have commented on their posts. If your comments are “juicy” then people will look up your profile, the stories that you share and ofcourse your website, blog, services and products.

4. Hey I don’t have time
While entirely true for a lot of people, the power of the internet has made it much easier to work around this problem. Social media sites will require time to do the registrations, click on all the confirmation links and then remembering the passwords, the links you have submitted etc. However, you can easily hire an online internet helper to help you out with the task. Thanks to offshore outsourcing to places like India, Pakistan, China and Philippines this is today much easier and cheaper to do than ever before.

Social networking is here to stay. Its best to participate and benefit from it. So take the plunge and work on it for a while. Don’t consider it work. Enjoy it 🙂