Former CEO of GE (General Electric) Jack Welch famously said: “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete”. So, unless you have a game plan and know how to win market share, there’s little point in trying to compete with other businesses in your niche.

Choosing to compete on price alone can be a bad move, since there is only so far you can drop the price of a product before it becomes unsustainable, and most buyers will pay a few dollars more for a quality product compared to one which has been made with cheap materials.

Instead, here are a few other ways you can gain a competitive edge without completely overhauling your business plan:

Brand definition

Just as no two customers are completely alike, neither are any two businesses. This is why branding is one of the best ways to gain a competitive edge without actually changing the way that your business runs.

The key is to define what differentiates your company compared to other companies within the same industry. What do you want people to think of when they hear your business’ name?

As new competitors enter the market, it’s likely that you’ll lose market share, and since no one business will have universal appeal, it’s important that you communicate your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to potential clients.

The idea is to ensure that your business is distinctive and you’re creating an emotional connection with clients and customers, so they know why they would choose your business over your competitors.

It’s also a bad idea to simply assume that your USP or differentiation will matter to your market. Do some research to verify if this is what your customers are looking for, and examine client conversations, surveys or testimonials.

Startups can ask their target audience for input, while more established businesses can encourage staff who interact with customers each day to report back with any comments, ideas, or complaints from these customers.

People

One of the biggest learning curves that many business owners will go through is the realisation that they can’t do it all by themselves. Not only do you need a solid team, but you also need to be able to effectively develop and lead that team.

Sports are a great example of how teamwork can make or break a competition or match. You’ll notice that the better a team plays well together, compliments each other and remains focused on winning, the more successful they are. The same goes for your business.

The people you choose to have within your inner circle should be completely committed to seeing your business succeed. That means offering the best possible service and aiming to create advocates and raving fans who will do some of your promotion for you.

Positioning

Every business is looking for customers, clients and prospects, and this never-ending search can be exhausting. A better way to gain a competitive edge is to position yourself correctly within your niche as a trusted advisor, leading authority, specialist, or expert. This will take intentional and strategic action, but the rewards are numerous.

When you’re known as an expert in your industry, customers actively search your business out, instead of you needing to continually chase them. Aim to be an exclusive, elite choice, so that clients are honoured to work with you.

Innovation

Prioritising innovation is great for your business in numerous ways. Encouraging innovation at all levels of your business will mean that your business is continually improving- including both the customer experience and the product or service itself.

This also includes IT infrastructure. When your IT systems and software have been optimised to meet your business goals, you can continually improve your operations and adapt your processes on a consistent basis.

Business owners that strive to use technology to their advantage, encourage staff to think out of the box and listen to suggestions from employees will stay ahead of the pack, gaining an advantage over the competition without needing to completely change their business model.