leadership

Competitor wars: how to deal with dirty tricks

Kye White /

Being an entrepreneur is serious business. While some seem to thrive under the pressure of growth and competition, others harden, taking their focus off their own businesses to think up ways to sabotage their competitors.

Hiding under the cloak of anonymity, their dirty tricks are many. They plagiarise your blogs, website content, promotions, newsletter, social media updates, products, services or innovations and claim it as their own.

Some open fake social media accounts to harass you through posts or subtly (and not so subtly) promote their own business on your page. Others leave scathing online reviews for products and services they haven’t even purchased, or pose as a complimenting customer trying to glean suppliers and the inner workings of your business. All in an attempt to surpass you, distract you and break you.

While it can be distressing, annoying and downright unethical the truth is you can’t control how your competitors will react. You can, however, control how you respond. So before you go out and declare a full-scale competitor war, here are five tips to help you deal with their dirty tricks.

1. Feel satisfied that you are doing something right

Know that to cause such a stir and have your competitors scared you must be doing something right.

People don’t copy or get concerned about competitors with bad businesses or ideas. They get concerned about competitors with great ones. You are doing your job too well in their eyes and they don’t like it. See their jealousy as a compliment.

In fact, the only time you really need to worry is when they stop looking to you for their ideas.

2. Mind your own business

While it’s necessary to keep a check on what a competitor is doing, the minute they consume your thoughts and energy or alter your actions they’ve won. Stay focused on your business. Keep disrupting, keep innovating, and keep making your competitors uncomfortable.

3. Build your fans

I’m not talking about more social media followers here; I’m talking about actual raving fans. You want to create customers that have a great experience with your business or love what you do so much they become your extended sales team, and in this case, your supporters and defenders.

Customers who have a strong relationship and emotional connection with you will start to notice (as will others) that your competitors are copying you or playing dirty tricks. What’s more, they won’t be reserved with their opinion.

4. Respond with kindness

Use negative reviews as a way to showcase your character and customer service. There are countless examples on social media of how a complaint turned into a massive PR opportunity for a business.

Respond with kindness, show your customers why they love you and how positively you act under pressure. You will often build more rapport with your customers, fans and followers when they see you handle a negative situation positively and authentically, it will give them even more of a reason to believe in you.

5. Let them be their own undoing

People who act in desperation or greed always slip up eventually and those who copy you will always be one step behind. So as tempting as it can be to lower yourself to their level and play their dirty games, don’t.

It catches up with them. It may not be in your time (or how you have plotted it in your head), but it does. The business world is too small for it not to.

So seek legal and business counsel if and when you need to, though make sure your main focus is on building your business and serving your customers.

Succeeding will always be the best revenge.

This story originally appeared on StartupSmart.

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Kye White

Kye began his career at a Fairfax daily on the North-West Coast of Tasmania. He has since taken his belongings, and keen interest in technology, to Melbourne. He has a bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science from the University of Tasmania and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism from RMIT University.

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