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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

4 guidelines to follow when speaking about your competitors

As the founder of a startup, how do you usually speak about your competitors? Do you speak down about them, dismissively or do you arrogantly proclaim that you have no competitors? That your product is so ground-breaking, unique and transformational that it has no equal. Many founders are guilty of this level of hyperbole.

You need to realise that having competition is a good thing and if you walk into a pitch meeting without a strong understanding of the competitive landscape your investors will see right through you.

Here are 4 tips to help you improve how you speak about your competitors.

Don’t speak badly about them.

Firstly, don’t speak poorly of your competitors. You don’t know the full background of the audience. They may be mentors, supporters or investors in your competition. Speaking badly is distasteful, achieves nothing and reflects poorly on you.

Use your competitors as an example.

Your competitors, especially if well-established, are an example of what you aspire to. Use them as an example of the potential size of the industry you are growing into. Alternatively, if any have been recently acquired or merged use them as an example of potential future exit strategies.

Understand the competitive picture.

You need to fully understand who all your competitors are. If you currently think you don’t have any then keep looking because you will. It will damage your credibility if during a pitch meeting a competitor is pointed out to you that you didn’t realise.

Show where you fit.

You need to understand and place yourself within the competitive landscape. Common visual tools to do this include the magic quadrant or a petal diagram. These allow you to visual demonstrate multiple companies’ positions against two or more variables. These tools are also great at identifying gaps in the landscape.

Not understanding who your competitors are demonstrates naivety and damages your credibility. Both of these impact significantly on the likelihood that you will secure an investment. It is, therefore, worthwhile to take the time to understand your competitors and the competitive landscape intimately.


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