RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- With a new year comes new opportunities to identify how you can achieve greater success in your business. Economic conditions may hold you back, but success is ultimately dependent upon your people, processes and the value of your product and services to the customer.Remember, the customer will vote with their purchases. It was the customer that decided the marketplace battle between VCR technologies -- Betamax, viewed by experts as the "superior" product, versus the "inferior" VHS, which became the standard. Don't forget about the ongoing competition of computer operating systems; the flawed but convenient Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows versus Linux ( Red Hat ( RHT) and Ubuntu) and Mac-based programs ( Apple ( AAPL)).
|To stay ahead, a small-business owner must be aware of the competition but focused on their own goals.|
This is important to enable you to find new ways and opportunities to do business. For example, you can read about best practices in online retailing (e.g., Amazon ( AMZN), Overstock.com ( OSTK), Zappos) and apply some of these lessons to your business. Monitor the competition, but don't try to be them.
It's easy to look at competitors and decide to copy what they do. This can be seen in the automotive industry. GM ( GM), Chrysler, Ford ( F), Honda and just about every other automaker have a sticker price and then a "real" price that depends upon how well buyers could haggle. This leads customers to find alternatives to buying new vehicles (Cars.com, for example). It's crucial to avoid becoming so focused on keeping up with the competition that you forget the customer's needs.