So you’ve started a business, congratulations! You’ve got customers, wonderful. With the territory comes competition and while it’s easy to think of the competition to your sadza spot as the other sadza spot that’s 11kms away it’s not that simple. The competition yo your business may be closer than you think, much closer. For even in the places you least expect it, you can find your biggest competitors. So let’s have a look at some of the competitors your business will face.

Direct competitors

In the aforementioned example, these would be other people selling sadza or sadza spots just like yours. They are easy to understand and analyse because they are a lot like you.

Indirect competitors

Customers don’t buy things but rather they have jobs that need fulfilling. This is known as (the late) Clayton Christensen’s jobs theory. Your customers will buy sadza because they are hungry, however, chips, burgers, pizza, pasta, chicken, pies and many more can do the job. That makes these your indirect competitors because they can do the same job as you.

DIY crew

These are people who have an appreciation for sadza but feel there is no need to pay you for it and would rather make their own. These competitors are interesting because they can provide some interesting points for you. Maybe your sadza is too thick or too thin.

People who do nothing

These are people who just don’t respond to the messages or product. They may see nothing wrong with it at all but they will never be your customers

Your suppliers

It seems unlikely but they have a great impact on your ability to compete. Firstly and perhaps most importantly by determining your input pricing. Secondly and certainly on the rise in these times is the practice of suppliers selling.directly to your market. If your mealie meal supplier created a product that cools in 5 minutes you may find your regular lunchtime business declining if many take the opportunity up.

Defending against these competitors is difficult but not impossible.

Define your brand and connect with your customers on a level that is important to them. While pizza and chicken places may communicate in a certain it is important that your brand behaves in a manner that is consistent with what you offer and what it means to your customers. You cannot be everything to everybody nor should you be.

Competitors may offer different food or quicker options but understanding why the customer chooses your sadza spot and investing in getting better at those things is valuable. Knowing your competitive advantage is good, maximising on it thereafter is great. Perhaps it’s the fact that you offer free top-ups or relish combinations that nobody else does that makes your place popular. Whatever it is, know it, then grow it.

Communicating with your customers and competitors such as the DIY crew is a great way to figure out how to strengthen your product offering or extend your product line. Perhaps offering options between thin and thick sadza. They do it for pizza bases so why not? It may be the thing that convinces customers to your spot over others.