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Stand Out from the Competition – Dive into the Blue Ocean

The_Position_Map_–_Y5.2_Page_1As an entrepreneur it is easy to find yourself immersed in a “red ocean” full of sharks – competitors and cutthroat competition. This can mean spending a lot of time on sales without getting the orders, or having your prices squeezed. How can we make ourselves stand out from our competitors?  See the Full ArticleThe_Position_Map_–_Y5.2_Page_1

“There is an alternative to constantly trying to be better and cheaper than the competitors: Being Different.”

Often you went into business because you wanted to do something that was not done in quite the same way before. Perhaps you hoped to develop a product or a service that has not been seen before, or that had distinct values or features. In reality, very few ideas and products are actually unique. More often, they solve the same problems or fulfill the same needs as others, but in a slightly different way or with a twist.

The good news is that an idea does not have to be unique or completely new to be a good business idea. Initially, it may be enough to just be better than the competition at what it does. So how do you know what’s your competitive advantage?

After acquiring some knowledge about the market and the customers, take time to make a systematic comparison of your own company and the competitors. A compelling way to make this comparison is to use a Position Map where you chart the various characteristics of your product and your company and make the comparison.

Position Map

Click Graph to Enlarge

The sample chart shows five examples of areas where you might do better or worse than the competitors. These five areas are:

  • Product design
  • Buyer’s experience
  • Customer relations
  • Brand value
  • Price level.

In all these areas you can give yourself and your competitors a score representing where you stand in the market and the lines between the dots will provide an image of your market position.

While beating the competition is desirable, there is a certain danger to this whole way of thinking. It takes a lot of resources to be the best or cheapest at all times. There is, however, an alternative – Become different and move to a spot without competition: The Blue Ocean.

To be in the blue ocean means that you are trying to make your competitors irrelevant. In relation to the Position Map, you might say that you are adding new factors to compete for. The trick is to identify these new competitive factors. There are several ways to identify them. One way is to consider whether you can:

  • Create a whole new market by going beyond the traditional limits of your industry
  • Become part of several industries at the same time
  • Look for customer groups that others have overlooked
  • Find new and unprecedented ways of compiling products

This approach may allow you to design your products and your company in a way that positions you outside the common notions of how a company acts in the industry.

This blog condenses some the information and business advice found in an article on “Startup in the Blue Ocean – Stand Out from the Competition”. It is taken with permission from a Series of Articles published by GrowthWheel with the goal of providing inspiration and ideas that start-up and growth companies can use.  The MEV Innovation Centre uses GrowthWheel as a visual tool to help companies develop, design and improve their businesses taking a 360 degree perspective.  It works an alternative to the conventional business plan by helping start-ups and growth companies make decisions and take action.

The MEV Innovation Centre is a certified GrowthWheel business advisor. If you would like a full copy of the article and related worksheets, please send us an email at MEVInnovation@milton.ca. For more information on GrowthWheel or to schedule time with one of our business advisors, again send us an email.

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