Why you’ve probably got less competition than you think

Doing a differentiation exercise, or a positioning exercise, to look at your competition and work out where you sit, how you compare and how you are different (better!) is really important. But it can be quite intimidating. If you do a search for HR consultant in your area (or whatever search term would be appropriate for you), you may get loads coming up. Does it seem like you’ve got loads and loads of competitors? That can make people feel despondent, and worry that there’s not enough work out there.

But having done these many times, in different areas, there are usually far fewer actual competitors than it first seems. Here are some reasons why:

Some of them probably aren’t operating any more

A bit of digging will probably reveal that one or more of them aren’t actively trading now. Website might be out of date. A check of their LinkedIn might reveal a bit more. Sometimes people set up a website, but then stop trading for whatever reason and don’t take it down.

Some of them probably aren’t actually consultants

It’s reasonably common for someone to set themselves up as being a self-employed consultant, and perhaps register a company name and a website, but then actually their working activities more resemble interim work – they have one client or employer at a time, and work more on an interim basis than consultancy for several clients at once. They are not your competition!

Some of them don’t work with your clients

Dig around and see what kind of clients the competitors are aiming at (hopefully clear from their website). If they specialise in a particular type of work, size of client or sector that you’re not really going to be working with, they are not your competition.

Some of them deliver services in a very different way

They might be aiming at the same client base, but if they deliver what they do in a very different way from you, they are not nearly as much your competition as you might think. It means that a client who would want things done how they do them wouldn’t really be interested in you, and vice versa. Just make sure you are clear about that difference, and the clients who prefer how you do things will come to you, and the ones who like it the other way won’t. But they wouldn’t have done anyway.

Once you’ve eliminated all of those people, you’ve probably got far less direct competition than you thought. Which means you feel more confident and can hone your marketing activities to reflect what’s going on in your marketplace really effectively, identify gaps and fill them.

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