When you hear the words competitor or competition…what comes to mind? No matter what your industry is, we all have competition. As long as you keep updated about your competition, you’ll be well-prepared. If you view your competitor as the enemy, you’re probably missing key information which could be detrimental in the long run.

This may be a new perspective for you and if so, here are some questions to consider (excerpted from Info entrepreneurs delivered by Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal).

1. Who are your competitors? (i.e. drawn from advertising, local business directories, exhibitions/state fairs, your local Chamber of Commerce, information provided by your customers)

2. What do you need to know about your competitors?
-products/services they provide
-ways they market their products/services
-fees they charge
-their brand and design values
-staff numbers and the caliber of people they hire
-their media presence

3. Are you consistently learning about your competitors?
-go online
-attend exhibitions
-read their annual report (if available)
-review their website and any of their marketing literature

4. How do you hear about your competitors?
-speak with them at business events
-listen to your customers and suppliers
-initiate phone contacts with competitors

5. What are your next steps with competitors?
-create a list of what you’ve learned
-determine what your competitors are not doing as well as you
-assess what your competitors are doing the same as you
-decide what changes or improvements you need to make

Our competition provides a rich learning opportunity…if we’re open to communication with them. I still recall years ago when a prospect asked me how I differed from company X (a competitor). Fortunately, I was able to articulate this in a meaningful way.

You never know when a question may be posed to you so preparation and ongoing communication are vital.