I had an unexpectedly inspiring phone call this week. The topic? Doing a competitive analysis for my social enterprise.
It is not that I was expecting the person to be uninspiring, however, it was the first time we had ever spoken to one another. Introductory calls typically do not pack too much bang for the buck.
One of the things Garance Choko mentioned on our call was how she thought I should start writing about the competitors in my landscape – she said I should point out the parts of their business models which I do differently. My mind began soar as I thought of the possibilities for new opportunities that would expose themselves to me if I were to follow this advice. Moment of clarity. I immediately told Garance how much I appreciated the advice.
Social Enterprise Competitors to Analyze
We are creating a new market at the intersection of the following adjacent market segments – our customers will come from each of these segments:
- Accelerators: Y-Combinator, First Round
- Social Enterprise Higher Ed: Stanford University, Harvard University, Duke CASE
- Foundations: Skoll, Ashoka, Schwab
- Innovation Platforms: OpenIDEO
- Institutions: SBA, American Apprenticeship Initiative
- eLearning: +Acumen
- Investor Matchmaking: Angel List
- Crowdfunding: IndieGogo
The emerging market I speak of is where a select few organizations are building the foundation for a new economy by establishing the various components of a social enterprise ecosystem. This emerging market currently consists of:
- Unreasonable Group
- Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG)
- Impact Hub
- Be Social Change
- Blue Ridge Labs at Robinhood
Typically, I would assume the above shortlist of social enterprise enablers would be considered my direct competitors. However, working in the social impact space has taught me that these organizations are actually incredibly important potential partnerships. One of our goals is to align our vision with organizations such as the five I list above so that we may work cooperatively, as a team, to have the greatest impact on the outcomes of the next generation. For this reason, I will work on the competitor profiles from the first list I mention above containing accelerators, higher ed, etc.
Competitive Analysis Questions to Answer
Here is a working list of questions I will answer:
- Who are my current competitors? What is their market share? How successful are they?
- What market do current competitors target? Do they focus on a specific customer type, on serving the mass market, or on a particular niche?
- Are competing businesses growing or scaling back their operations? Why? What does that mean for your business?
- How will your company be different from the competition? What competitor weaknesses can you exploit? What competitor strengths will you need to overcome to be successful?
- What will you do if competitors drop out of the marketplace? What will you do to take advantage of the opportunity?
- What will you do if new competitors enter the marketplace? How will you react to and overcome new challenges?
- What are their strengths? Price, service, convenience, extensive inventory are all areas where you may be vulnerable.
- What are their weaknesses? Weaknesses are opportunities you should plan to take advantage of.
- What are their basic objectives? Do they seek to gain market share? Do they attempt to capture premium clients? See your industry through their eyes. What are they trying to achieve?
- What marketing strategies do they use? Look at their advertising, public relations, etc.
- How can you take market share away from their business?
- How will they respond when you enter the market?
Competitive Analysis Profiles
After this post, I will post individual posts for each competitor I profile. The first profile will be the first iteration of the first time doing something like this. Bare with me! If you notice anything that might need improvement or expansion or removal please let me know in the comments so I can improve my approach in the next analysis.