Entrepreneurship: Know the Competition

Posted by

For the past few years, I have been watching certain areas around town, and the businesses that have come and gone in various locations, and it often makes me wonder what people are thinking.   Being an entrepreneur is a great aspiration, but it has to be done with much forethought.


There is one particular store front in a partially active shopping center, and in the past five years there has been at least four different businesses in it, three of which were pizza places. Now I am a big fan of pizza, and I try various new places all the time, looking for a better pizza, and so I have tried every new place that has taken up residence ever so shortly at this location. Pretty much all of the places had good pizza, but nothing that made them any different or better than the similar pizza shop a block away, and therein lays a problem I would think.


If you are going to step out of your own and start a business like these pizza places, you really should do so with an attitude of being different. This one location I speak of is in a shopping center across the street from another shopping center, and on that side there is another family owned pizza restaurant. The one thing different about this one is that it is a sit down restaurant style, while most are just pick-up and delivery shops.


Now, right on the corner, between these two shops, is a Domino’s Pizza location. Then about a quarter of a mile further down is another family owned pizza shop. Then a mile in the other direction is another family pizza location. I could go on because the amount of small mom-and-pop pizza places in just a few mile radiuses of each other is pretty high.


For me, I would much rather have a small shop pizza like these any day, instead of a typical big named chain shop, and so I have tried a good majority of these many stores as they have come and gone, and have found that they pretty much all offer the same things, and none of them really stands out as being much different or better than the next. So many of these places advertise as “New York  style pizza” that they think they are doing something original. Here is some originality for you, DON’T do New York style pizza – be different! On a side note, I do not think New York style pizza is as good as they play it up to be, and I thought the same when I lived in New York too. And so it is, these places pop up all over town, and usually within a year they are gone, failing to sustain themselves.


Yes, the economy is bad and is partially to blame, but I can’t help but wonder what they were thinking to begin with by opening another similar place in an already saturated area; especially if they are not offering much that is different from the rest.


I have also wondered how many times these new aspiring pizza store owners have taken the time to go down the street to the next closest shop, and discuss a merger to consolidate their talents and resources, and make one location stronger. It seems everyone wants to do their own thing rather than attempting to do something better with an already established group.


So, if you are considering stepping out on your own to open a business, be sure you know the area, and if you are offering something similar to other shops in town, try to put some distance between you and them, or seek to really offer a majorly different experience so that your shop will stand out. Before starting your own thing though, maybe it would be a good idea to go to the closest similar shop and offer your talents or a partnership to boost that location more.


These might help to sustain a business for a longer period than it would to open another close-by location, duplicating all of the typical costs to do so, and that now causes multiple locations to fight for the small customer base. Just give it some thought before opening shop.


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Jeffrey McCormack
    Jeffrey McCormack
    That was the main idea - just to kind of think out loud and hope people consider some of what I have said. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
  • George F
    George F
    This is great but simple article that provides lots of good pointers and advise to future small business entrepreneurs.

Jobs to Watch