Startup Library

6. Define your positioning

There are many external factors that can influence the features you can design into your business and into your product.

Political, economic, social, technological, legal and ecological forces can impact the size of your market.

Market forces can help you predict client behaviour.

Industry forces are good predicators of the potential for profitabilility.

None of these things you can control — but you certainly can pay attention to them and make decisions along the way to mitigate the risk of these uncontrollable forces.

You are only strong or weak in the context of your competition

One important external force is your competition.

Your idea and business is only strong or weak in the context of the competition, so you better know how your customers are currently solving the problem that you are hoping to solve for them. And which companies and what products and services are helping your customers solve their problem today.

There are many ways to find your competition.

  1. Ask your potential customers who is helping them today!
  2. Imagine that you are your customer, and do a google search using key words and phrases you think your future customers might eventually use to search for your future product or service — and the companies that show up in the search are competing today for the hearts and minds of your future customers.
  3. You can also search for reports about the industry you are interested in and see if any competitors are listed in the reports.

Once you know who they are, then try and learn as much about them as possible, comparing your business and product features to theirs, and deciding if you are stronger or weaker.

Compare yourself to your competition with intention

You can capture your findings with your team the first time you do this exercise using this basic competitor analysis template.

As you do more research, you can begin to plot the results on a competitive matrix to see your relative strengths and weaknesses more clearly. You can use this more detailed competitor analysis template.

Below is a detailed example by one of our startups that was selling in the transportation sector, you can also consider for your own work:

competitiona analysis template filled

With this competitive information you can make decisions about changes you need to make to your business and product/solution features. You also will get closer to the information you will need to be able to position your offering in the market.

Compare yourself to your competition regularly

This is not a set-it-and-forget-it exercise! Review your competitor landscape at least every quarter, and make sure you update what you know in your grid so that the information can be shared with your key employees.
Take a stand on why you are different
Now it’s time to position yourself in the market.

You can position your business relative to the competition at many levels — at the business feature (business model) level (eg. unique channels, unique partners, etc); at the product/solution feature level (eg. unique combination of hardware and software solution); etc.

Use part 4 of the District 3 elevator pitch template to help you to remember to summarize what sets you apart,:

elevator pitch template

Author: Jane Somerville