The old adage, “If you’re not first, you’re last,” couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to business success. Being first-to-market may have its advantages, but long-term success is not a race – it’s how you make a product or service better than that of your competitors. And “Better” can mean anything from the product or service itself to customer service, pricing, or marketing strategy.
“Without a robust and resilient innovation strategy, no company can survive,” says Phil McKinney, CEO of CableLabs. In just about every industry and just about every career, the creator of the Purple Cow enjoys the profits, the accolades, and the feeling of omniscience that comes with a success. So how do you stay ahead of your competitors and ensure that you are successful?
Stop trying to copy the business model of your rivals
You will only achieve success if you run your business on your own terms, and not fall prey to chasing after rivals in your industry. As soon as you stop following your own path and start copying your competitors, you could find yourself even further behind than when you started. You have your own unique strategies, resources, and capabilities so you need to stay true to your business model that optimizes them in the best possible way.
Make innovation your best friend
Being a small business owner means always finding novel ways to enhance your business. The companies that fail are the ones that become stagnant, relying on methods that can become outdated. Eventually, as their competition becomes more efficient, they leave these businesses behind. Don’t let that happen to you. Use the tips in this article to ensure that you remain ahead of your competitors.
Expand your offers – a market that’s already crowded has less scope for expansion. It is essential to offer something unique to your customers in order to build your own niche and minimize the existing competition.
Be the best employer
Skilled, motivated employees underpin vibrant, growing businesses. Attracting them means more than paying a competitive wage. People are often more impressed by a good working atmosphere, and benefits such as flexible working and structured career development.
Identify and solve the pain points of your customers
Ask open-ended questions to find exactly what your customers want while using your products or services. The key here is to provide solutions to the prospects and supply them what they need as opposed to selling them what you want to sell. You only need to fulfil the need, not "sell" anything. Your product or service will automatically start to sell more the moment you fill the void that your competitors are lacking.
Get the pricing correct
Perfect pricing strategy revolves around marketing psychology. Before you set your own pricing strategy, it is essential to know the competition. You must identify who is offering the best value for money. The price you set should be standard and must have a competitive advantage. A great pricing strategy does not always mean lowering the prices of existing products in order to win more customers. Every market is divided into three segments – the lower, middle and upper class. The first step is to identify the class you are targeting. Once you get an answer to that, it will be much easier to set a price that your audiences will love to pay.
Improve your customer service
People love businesses that provide exceptional customer service. If you delight your customers with great service, you will make loyal customers who will refer your business to their family and friends. Hire staff who have a good understanding of your products or services. Ensure that they remain patient and provide satisfying answers to every customer query. Your staff should greet customers with a pleasing smile and must show gratitude. Your customer care team should always remain courteous and respectful.
They must always be responsive to customer queries. They should have a problem-solving approach and always ask for customer feedback. Customer-centric companies are powered by dependable staff who raise the level of customer satisfaction. You can also consider offering freebies that competitors don’t.
Target new customers
Retaining your customer will help you build a loyal consumer base. However, if you want to grow your business, you’ll need to attract new customers. In this rapidly changing economy, you may wake up one day only to find that your so-called loyal consumer base is busy shopping elsewhere. There is no guarantee that they will keep coming back for more forever. A steady flow of customers will keep your business healthy.
More favourable opening hours
Whether you go 24/7 or just open Saturdays when your rivals are shut, making a customer’s life more convenient and shaping your business around their lifestyle is guaranteed to bring them through the doors, and this is a vital part of building competitive strategy.
Show your personality
There is true value that comes from turning the customer experience into a personal one. When people are able to put a face to the business, it naturally leads them to form an emotional connection that simply doesn’t happen when they walk into a big retail store. Share your business story. Discuss why you got into the business in the first place. Talk about why your service is unique. In short, reinforce the emotional side of things and you’ll see how your customers will begin to feel a real connection to your business.
Healthy competition is always good as it keeps pushing you to do better. Therefore, you should not shy away from competing. Nevertheless, you should arm yourself with the best of tools that can help you in staying ahead. Business is a never-ending battle that makes you learn new things each day. You must be ready to face any challenges or situations.
Why there is a massive sell-off of US stocks
The United States 10-year Treasury yields rose to a new one-year high of 1.5% on Thursday sending the equities market on a bearish run. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.5% as of 7.30 pm on Thursday falling by a whopping 500 points. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ were both down 2% and 2.75% respectively ad the sell-offs intensified.
Global bond prices also fell lower on Thursday and investors around the world sold off massively as they feared higher inflation could erode bond yields.
What is going on?
Investors are worried that massive injection of stimulus in the US and in most European countries could trigger higher inflation which will erode profits on bond yields assuming their fears materializes.
US inflation rate for the month of January 2021 was 1.4% the same as the month of December 2020. US inflation was as high as 2.3% a year ago yet investors remain worried. In response to this fear, bond yields have hit multiple one-year highs. This fear is has now spread to the US equities market.
US President Joe Biden is seeking a $1.9 trillion stimulus package which many had hoped will please the market. However, it appears investors are rather afraid that it could trigger a “reflation” eroding whatever positive jolt it could have had on the wider economy.
What this means for your stocks
A rise in interest rates is triggering a massive sell-off in US stocks ad investors fear a return to higher inflation could signal the market could be entering a bearish era. Stocks have hit multi-year highs since January as investors poured in billions of dollars into stocks. If this sell-off persists then investors in US stocks could see the value of their portfolio plummet.
Tech Stocks are particularly affected by the sell-offs with investors dumping heavyweights like Netflix, Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google all falling. Meme stocks, an acronym for stocks popular with Reddit and Twitter retail investors have also suffered losses.
Nairametrics SSN subscribers are advised to track their portfolios accordingly.
Buharinomics: In Stagflation we trust
We explain why President Buhari is synonymous with stagflation and what he can do to get us out of it.
Economists define stagflation as a period of slow economic growth, high unemployment rate and higher inflation. It is one of the worst kinds of economic state of affairs that often leads to poverty, insecurity and social-economic crisis. It is a sticky economic conundrum that is incredibly difficult to escape from.
The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveal Nigeria barely slipped out of a recession in the 4th quarter of 2020 with a 0.11% GDP Growth rate. Despite being a welcome news, it is the slowest GDP Growth rate on record at least since 2011.
Earlier on, in the same week, the Statistics Bureau also released inflation data for the month of January revealing an inflation rate of 16.47%, the highest since April 2017, and affirming Nigeria’s galloping inflation status.
Nigeria is in a protracted state of stagflation and has been in the state since the Buhari administration came into power in 2015. Nigeria’s Gross Domestic product per quarter has averaged 0.18% in the last 6 years since this administration got elected into power. The Buhari government has also presided over a consumer price index change of 108.6%, meaning that prices of nearly every measurable item have doubled in the last 6 years.
Flashback to the first installment of General Buhari and the story is all too familiar. Nigeria’s GDP Growth rate for 1983, 1984 was -10.92% and -1.12% respectively. Annual inflation rate in the same period was 17.2% and 23.8% respectively.
Buharinomics is synonymous with Stagflation.
How did we get here?
While it all started from the drop in oil prices in 2014, a cocktail of economic policies from the Buhari-led administration is largely blamed for Nigeria’s economic quagmire. Since it came into power, the government has adopted economic policies that are centered around defending the local currency, import substitution and social spending.
For all its good intentions, these policies are pregnant with side effects that potentially erase its positives, turning into cancer of cataclysmic proportions.
For example, while the policy of defending the exchange rate stabilized the naira between 2016 and 2019, it cost the CBN trillions in interest payments and high cost of borrowing.
The high cost of borrowing is associated with higher inflation and stunted economic growth as small businesses cannot secure the funding required to expand and even when they do it is expensive.
The policy of promoting locally made goods over their foreign alternatives has also led to multiple bans of access to forex to imports, higher customs duties and taxes on imports and a crushing border closure all of which have combined to send inflation off the roof.
Nigeria’s inflation rate conundrum can also be traced to supply-side challenges such as insecurity, logistic gridlocks, corruption and inefficiencies at the Nations ports and an overall bitter experience in the nation’s ease of doing business.
How to get out of Stagflation
There is no clear-cut set of rules that can end stagflation however a rethink of the government’s approach to policymaking and implementation could be a good first step to control it, especially if the target is one of the major causes of stagflation, supply-side inflation.
To address Nigeria’s challenges with Stagflation, the Buhari Government will have to swallow its pride and relinquish trust in moribund policies that have not worked. Wholesome of Nigeria’s economic challenges are out of its control (like fall in oil prices) a huge chunk of it is self-inflicted and as such within its control. For example, it must fix the spate of insecurity around the country by being more deliberate with dealing with bandits, militant herdsmen and terrorists.
It must declare a national emergency in the nation’s ports and reduce the lead time to clearing goods for import or export. It must address the logistics issues affecting the distribution of farm produce from a place of planting to the destination of consumption.
Monetary policy restrictions stifling trade must be loosened and replaced with a reward policy system that encourages exports as against imports without banning cheap substitutes that have no local production advantage. We need new regulations and laws that favour private sector investments, protect property and enable capital formation. A case in point is the perennial PIB Bill that gets debated year after year.
These are not novel ideas within economic circles and as such cannot be that difficult to conceive and concede to doing. The challenges have always been the will and courage to act in defiance of snags such as vested interests, political ideology, endemic bureaucracy, and corruption. This government has shown in the past that it can roll back on unpopular policies except that it does it too late with not enough time to create a positive impact.
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