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How to Stay Competitive in a Tough Industry

Success in business requires being competitive and remaining competitive.

Hitting them where they ain’t is a good business strategy.

Yet many markets are oversupplied with businesses. Many businesses are oversupplied with good people.

What’s the optimal business strategy to stand out from the crowd, for both small businesses and top performers within organizations?

One solution is to adapt a baseball adage for your own. Hit ‘em where they ain’t.

In baseball, that means hit the balls where no basemen or fielders happen to be standing. They gotta run for it, and the chances of them catching a fly, or getting the ball before a hitter has achieved at least one base, are slim.

Now, let’s apply that to business leadership.

The Harvard Business Review notes that aiming for an open field — or at least a field where there is less competition — is a form of managing competitive risk.

You’d have to survey the open field to determine why fewer people are there, of course. Is it harder? Are there no or limited markets? Are the demographics challenging?

There are ways to hit ‘em where they ain’t, according to HBR. Here are 3 methods.

  1. Develop a position based on your unique strengths

One business strategy is to create a position based on unique strengths. An example? A corporate attorney whose hobby was jewelry convinced the founder of Etsy to hire her — despite repeated active discouragement from executives below the C-suite.

How? Well, her insight into the creative mind and markets of jewelry designers gave the attorney insight into how and why sellers use Etsy. Her corporate lawyer background allowed her to develop methods whereby Etsy as a company could flourish.

  1. Develop a product or service

Innovation of a product or service is perhaps the most tried-and-true method of hitting them where they ain’t. New products and services, from the automobile to the mobile phone, have driven entire new innovative fields that made people desire and use what they didn’t have before. Lucrative markets are opened up in the process.

One example is the plethora of financial services that are offered. While HBR’s example is innovative credit in the high interest rate during the 1980s, one could also use online funding sources such as Lending Tree and Prosper, which are examples of providing streamlined applications and lower costs than bricks-and-mortar banks.

  1. Look for opportunities in your field

While this advice may sound general, it’s also a tried-and-true method. What are people doing in your field that may be leaving some people underserved? What is a good or service that doesn’t exist, but should? Are there niche markets inside of larger ones?

The example here is mobile vet services. Vets’ offices are often crowded on weekends, as that’s the only time many pet lovers can get appointments. But mobile services that come to the animals are an idea whose time has come: convenient after work and relieving pet owners of the burden of having to put animals in carriers to take them to another building.

There are many ways to heighten your competitiveness. These 3 methods are great ways of improving your chances of success.