What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From the Post Office
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in deep water. They face falling demand for their core product along with rising costs.
It’s a deadly combination for any organization. So what does it have to do with entrepreneurs?
There are a number of lessons that could be taken away from the USPS. But today we want to focus on one area.
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As we talk with startup entrepreneurs and small business owners, a mistake we often see them make is thinking they have no competition.
It’s a naïve point-of-view. EVERYBODY has competition.
If you think you don’t, you haven’t looked closely enough at the marketplace.
And you have to really think about how you define competition. Competition doesn’t necessarily mean other companies just like you.
Before BIGG Success, my businesses all focused on serving property owners and managers. For some of our businesses, the biggest competition wasn’t other firms. It was people doing the work themselves.
Give a more specific example, George.
Okay, one of them was a carpet cleaning franchise. One group we did a lot of work for was apartment owners. I always kept in mind that they could do the work themselves.
But to do that, they would have to invest in equipment and people?
That’s true, but they could do it. So it set a limit on the price we could charge. Even if all other firms like mine charged the same amount as me, the customer could always compete with all of us directly.
So your customer could be your competition. This is just one example of where to look before you say, “We don’t have any competition.”
Now you might be saying, “What does this have to do with the USPS?”
It’s another form of competition you have to think about when you’re in business.
The Postal Service is a monopoly by law. Yet they are being hit hard by substitutes:
We can e-mail.
We can text.
We can connect online.
These digital forms of communication are impacting the USPS in a way telephones never did.
You can’t ignore substitutes when you’re thinking about starting your business. And as the Post Office proves, you can’t ignore substitutes as long as you’re in business.
Don’t get tunnel vision when you think about the market for your product or service. Look at it through your customer’s eyes. It leads to BIGG success!
Do you have a business idea but aren’t sure how to determine if it’s a good opportunity? Are you facing competition from substitutes?
Thanks so much for checking in with us. Until next time, here’s to your BIGG success!
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