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Owning A Corner of the Market

December 13, 2012

streetcornerOn a street corner in a Central New York village a hairdresser celebrated her store’s fifth anniversary. During her five years in business, she had established a good reputation and customer base offering simple services. She was comfortable with her “corner” on the market.

But two months ago, a high-scale salon moved into a storefront three doors away from the hairdresser. The new salon’s glitzy signs and fancy décor was appealing. Their list of salon and spa services was extensive. Everyone in the village was excited to have a new business in town; everyone but the hairdresser who thought she owned the market.

Every entrepreneur wishes they were the only game in town. I felt that way too when I started my first company. At the time, there was only one other event company in Syracuse. A couple years after I opened my doors three other event companies opened shop. During that period, I learned what I had to do to remain confident.

First, I realized no two businesses are alike no matter how similar they appear. Every company has a unique niche within their field. It is up to the entrepreneur to understand their niche so they can market their company appropriately. For example, as an event manager I was excellent at promoting events but not decorating venues. After studying my competition, I realized this difference and added promotional services to my event management contracts; and turned down event decorating proposals.

Second, a company’s pricing can play a vital role in the clientele they attract. The hairdresser will probably retain customers who aren’t willing to pay high end prices at the new salon. She needs to research the competitor’s pricing, understand the differences and then market her company appropriately. Entrepreneurs should analyze their competitor’s pricing on a semi-annual basis.

Third, entrepreneurs must realize they can’t do business with everyone. We must identify our target market and advertise to that segment. Early in my event business, I realized I enjoyed managing golf tournaments more than planning weddings. This revelation helped me pitch services to organizations planning golf tournaments and to turn down bridal show vendor invitations. Make sure you understand the market you want to serve.

Bottom line, no business ever dominates an industry for long. Competition is a healthy and essential part of a great business environment. Most importantly it can help entrepreneurs appreciate their unique “corner” on the market.

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