Startup Business Step #3 Research your Competition
For every optimistic startup business owner, there is a mile-long line of direct and indirect competition.
When we started out Bonjour Baby, we had only one direct competitor brand in a high-end mall. Their edge and corner guards were priced 50-100% higher than our target SRP and had limited colors.. Their price point seemed too high and they had only 3 colors to choose from.
We wanted to help ALL moms babyproof their homes, so we decided on a more reasonable price point and offered a wider choice of colors.
Do your research.
Find out their price points, their distribution outlets, and value proposition. If possible, try to test your potential or current competition’s product or service yourself. This way, you can learn firsthand what you like or dislike. From there, explore how you can improve and differentiate your business from theirs.
Research isn’t just about Googling to find an answer. It is often unglamorous and messy! Sometimes it takes the extra mile to go to markets, buy your competitor’s product and study them.That’s where you find what you’re getting into.
What if you don’t have competition?
It would be either two reasons. You may have a super great idea that hasn’t caught on yet (ride-sharing, drones didn’t have in their early days). Or others have tried your idea before and didn’t make a profit and closed down. Should that discourage you? Of course not – if you have a new strategy on how to lock in your market, a system to ensure efficiency and profitability, you can be known as the entrepreneur who can sell ice cream to eskimos!
However, expect copycats…
After a few months of launching Bonjour Baby Super Dense Edge and Corner Guards, I saw a couple of pages on Facebook selling lookalikes. It may frustrate you, but it really is part of business! Copycats will always be around. In our case, the FB version’s wasn’t as thick as ours, super smelly, and there were glue marks all over. A friend of mine shared later some photos of a corner guard bought online and it teared easily.
As long as you can take pride in the quality of your product, you can focus on your growing your business instead of always looking over your shoulder and comparing.
Startup Business Step #4 Name It!
My partner came up with the name Bonjour Baby. Easy to remember, French. Bonjour Baby can be read as Bonjour, Baby! A fresh good morning greeting, or just the alliteration of two B’s sounds friendly to the ears.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
- Use your name only if you are willing to be the face/personality behind your brand. Think, Monique Lhullier wedding dresses, or Carlos Ott’s architectural firm. Are you willing to put your name up in shining lights?
- Search the internet for your top picks. You’d be surprised to see what comes up in the top results. Is it the name of a competing company, or in the similar field? You don’t want to run into any legal problems by sounding too similar to a famous brand, or be associated with a brand that has had negative publicity.
- Don’t make it hard to spell. Think Facebook, Amazon, Twitter. You’ll lose traffic by coming up with hard to spell/ easily mistypable words
- If you have chosen a two or three word business or brand name, try typing everything in lowercase letters with no spaces. How does it look? Does it look strange, or form two new words when put together (ex: Choose Spain can be read as Chooses Pain) when put in a domain site.
- If you plan to expand your business or brand to have a wider product range, consider a more general name to give you wiggle room. Ex: my husband’s business name has “Tiles” in it, which is good because it obviously indicates our main product, but this deters us from expanding to other types of businesses.
Also, make sure that you properly trademark the name you worked hard on!
What stage are you in starting or growing your business? How do you deal with competition? Especially the copycat kind? Would love to hear your stories below!
Click here for Part 3 of this series.