I get asked quite often if I have any tips for small businesses to get a leg up on their competition. A lot of small business owners feel like they are just getting the leftovers from the competition, and not actually eating into their market share. My answer is always the same…It should come as no surprise that business is a competition. Even if you don’t feel it on a daily basis, or think that you are competing, you are!

Really, there are only five main ways your business can compete. Be the best at one of them and you’ll make money, be the best at all of them and you can grow your business beyond your wildest dreams.

Price

If you are the low cost provider, you will get business. Keep in mind I am not talking about what your profit will be, but you will have people coming through the door to buy your products and service. Figure out a way to be the low cost provider, and make a reasonable profit and you got it made.

Quality

High quality sells itself. People will seek you out for a quality product, and word will spread that you provide the highest quality. The good news here is that you will be able to sell your product/service at a premium to your competitors. Think Ford Escort or BMW, both are cars but one fetches a much higher price due to quality.

Service

Providing the highest quality customer service and a first rate customer experience will make you the provider of choice for the consumers you target. Nothing spreads word of mouth quicker than great service.

Location

Sometimes just being in the right place, with the right product, is enough to beat the competition. If you’re selling ice cream on the boardwalk in San Diego you’ll have a leg up on the competition selling the same ice cream in downtown. Location is important when buying real estate, and should be as important when you think about where to locate your business. The closer to your target market the better.

Timeliness

Be a first mover to capture the lion’s share of profits. Also, giving your customers what they want, when they want it will help your business squeeze competitors from the marketplace. Remember, people don’t want to wait, if you don’t have it and your competitor does they will get the business.

Of course, to succeed with any of these you need a good balance of persistence, luck and organisational skills. Add those to any of the above and you’ll have an excellent chance of making it.