Starting a Business – Competitive Analysis

 

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Dear M & M:

Is there any sort of checklist available that I could use to make sure I have all the bases covered when starting a business?

-Jim

Dear Jim:

As each business is unique any checklist made to cover everything you need to do would have some missing steps unique to you. However, the Arizona Commerce Authority has put together a pretty good list to get you started. As always contacting Sierra Vista EDF or Cochise College SBDC would certainly be one of the steps I’d include on the list. Below is the checklist developed by the Arizona Commerce Authority: Conduct research on your industry, target market and competition, Prepare a written business plan complete with financials, Establish an adequate and reliable source of financing, Retain an attorney and CPA, if appropriate, Decide if you want to operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, Check zoning, environmental and health ordinances, Select a suitable location, Choose a name and research the availability to register, Obtain an Employer Identification Number, if needed, Check on any other licensing, permits for state, county and city as required, Find a bank that is right for you, See insurance agent for a full range of coverage, Arrange for utilities, telephone, internet, trash pick-up or other services needed in connection with the business, Review all labor regulations, if hiring employees, Choose a record keeping system and method of controlling inventory. A business growth pattern typically follows these stages; conception, starting, operating and growing. There is a free customized step-by-step checklist online to help you navigate the processes of conception, starting, operating and growing your business online developed by the Arizona Commerce Authority at    http://www.azcommerce.com/services/small-business-services/ .

-M&M

Dear M & M:

What are some things I should include in a competitive analysis of my competitors?

-William  

Dear William:

A good competitive analysis is a scouting report of the actual market terrain that your company must navigate in order to be successful. To write a good competitive analysis, you must: Be objective, truthful and include the following five key topics; 1: Your company’s competitors; most of the time, such a list is comprised of what your company considers to be its chief competitors. However, there may be other companies that indirectly compete with yours, ones that offer products or services that are aiming for the same customer. 2. Competitor product summaries; analyze the competition’s products and services in terms of features, value, and targets. How do your competitor’s sell their wares? How do they market them? How do customers see your competition? 3). Competitor strengths and weaknesses; try to see the competition’s products as though you were the competitor. What makes their products so great? If they are growing rapidly, what is it about their product or service that’s promoting that growth? 4). The strategies used by each competitor to achieve their objectives; Observe how your competitors market themselves through press releases, advertising, annual reports reveal a great deal of information, too. 5). The market outlook; what is the market for your company’s product like now? Is it growing? If so, then there are likely quite a few customers left to go around. If on the other hand the market is flat, then the competition for customers is likely to be fierce. Your company will find itself scrambling to win market share. Is the market splintering — is it breaking up into niches? Remember, a good competitive analysis should do two things; enable you to gather information about your competition and enable you to use that information to predict their behavior to better position your strengths and core competencies to take advantage of any weaknesses or opportunities in the marketplace.

-M&M

To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email  hollism@svedf.org .

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