Keeping your cool when competitors bring the heat

The early days of starting a small business are full of excitement and never short of change. The opportunities seem endless and the world is your oyster when your brand is yet to be established. But it’s important to have a clear vision to stay true to when you start a small business, to avoid buckling under pressure when competitors try to muscle in.

The fun, frivolous days at Flora & Fauna were five years ago when we were developing the brand. The risk was small: no one knew who we were and my husband and I both still had full-time jobs. In the first year, we could pivot slightly as we were still establishing the business’ brand. We didn’t face competition as we were tiny and not a threat. And then we grew… quickly!

From the first year to the third, the business grew 2000 per cent. We went from packing a few orders a day to close to a thousand a week, and our lives were changing fast. Suddenly we needed help and better processes and systems. At the same time, our competitors started to catch on, and we could feel the heat.

As our competitors became more aggressive about edging us out of the market, we didn’t want to lose sight of our vision for the business. During this time it was important that we stayed true to our purpose, values and strategy if we wanted Flora & Fauna’s strong growth to continue.

We have always been driven by our strategy and customers. Purpose drives us, and we have a strong set of values proudly displayed on a huge billboard in our office so our team can always see them and make decisions with them in mind. We have a clear plan, we know what we need to achieve, and regardless of what else has happened in the market, we never veer from our core, even when it has plays on our minds. Some may think it crazy, but we don’t even receive competitor emails. This keeps us focused on our game.

Time and time again, we have seen other retailers make decisions based on beating their competition, and this has been to their detriment. Customers can get confused, and this can result in losing their loyalty. Flora & Fauna has ultimately been successful because of our commitment to our strategy. From year three to now, we’ve grown another 1000 per cent and in 2018 we were announced as the winner of the 2018 Telstra New South Wales Small and Succeeding Award. We believe this has only occurred because we have a clear brand vision and have never pivoted.

My top tips for keeping your head in the game when competitors bring the heat:

  • Define your purpose, no one else’s.
  • Define your values, strategy and goals with your mind firmly focused on your business.
  • Be mindful of your competition, but don’t obsess.
  • Make every decision with your purpose, values and customers in mind.
  • Build a great team who are equally as focused and hold you accountable.
  • And most importantly, love what you do! You started your business for a reason, so follow your goals!

Julie Mathers, CEO and Founder, Flora & Fauna

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