It is important to always be finding ways to improve your core business. In the increasingly competitive market, companies who fail to constantly improve themselves risk being overtaken by their competitors.
One of the best ways to improve your own business is to learn from both the successes and the failures of other companies, particularly your competitors. Doing this is easier than ever before, thanks to the vast array of information that is now available on the Internet.
How to find information about competitors mistakes and successes
There are a number of ways to find information about your competitors on the Internet. The easiest and most obvious way is to simply perform a Google search on the company itself. From there, you can likely find both objective reporting as well as commentary and analysis – dependent on the size of the company of course. Additionally, you can set up “Google Alerts”, which will automatically inform you via email anytime an article is written and posted about a specific search term (i.e. your competitor’s company name).
Another way to find out about developments from your competitors is to read their company blog (as well as keep it bookmarked for the future). Increasingly, companies large and small are using blogs on their company websites as a place to post industry thought-leadership, as well as announce news and updates for their company. While it is unlikely that you will find much negative information from this particular source, it is still worthwhile to see how competitors spin industry developments, as well as discuss their own operations.
Finally, it is worthwhile to follow your competitor’s social media feeds. Most companies now have at least a Facebook, and many use some of the other social media platforms as well (such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.).
An example of how to learn from successes and failures
In order to illustrate the ideas described above, the following is an example of a failure by an industry, and how one company was able to successfully disrupt said industry permanently.
Uber, the sometimes-controversial on-demand ridesharing service, has completely upended the traditional taxi industry model. For decades, taxi companies have had what amounted to monopolies in almost every major market in the United States. Over time, customer service deteriorated, but with a lack of real competition, there was no pressure for taxi companies to evolve or innovate.
Enter Uber, a Silicon Valley upstart that utilized social media, a clean and simple mobile OS interface, and dramatically improved customer service to blindside and compete with the taxi industry. Uber was successful in taking a pain point for customers of a particular industry – in this case, the taxi industry – and provide a better experience that was appealing and affordable to a vast segment of the taxi customer base.
The taxi industry, on the other hand, was simply unable to react quickly enough to the competing Uber. Even worse, the taxi industry largely tried to use their political clout with local and some state governments to try and ban Uber outright. While this model might have worked in the past, the sheer popularity and effectiveness of Uber, combined with their willingness to skate on the thin line of regulatory adherence, allowed them to gain massive market share away from the simply outclassed taxi industry.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the Uber/taxi battle, even if you aren’t in the transportation industry yourself. At its core, this was a battle between a deeply entrenched industry that was unable to properly react to a technology startup, and said startup using a superior product and customer service level to barrel right through competitive and regulatory hurdles.