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How to Write the Competitor Analysis Section of the Business Plan

Writing The Business Plan: Section 4

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

The competitor analysis section can be the most difficult section to compile when writing a business plan because before you can analyze your competitors, you have to investigate them. Here's how to write the competitor analysis section of the business plan.

First, Find Out Who Your Competitors Are

If you're planning to start a small business that's going to operate locally, chances are you already know which businesses you're going to be competing with. But if not, you can easily find out by doing an internet search for local businesses, looking in the online or printed local phone book, or even driving around the target market area. 

Your local business may also have non-local competitors that you need to be aware of.

If you're selling office supplies, for instance, you may also have to compete with big-box retailers within a driving distance of several hours and companies that offer office supplies online. You want to make sure that you identify all your possible competitors at this stage.

Then Find Out About Them

You need to know:

  • what markets or market segments your competitors serve;
  • what benefits your competitors offer;
  • why customers buy from them;
  • as much as possible about their products and/or services, pricing, and promotion.

Gathering Information for Your Competitor Analysis

A visit is still the most obvious starting point - either to the brick and mortar store or to the company's website. Go there, once or several times, and look around. Watch how customers are treated. Check out the prices.

You can also learn a fair bit about your competitors from talking to their customers and/or clients - if you know who they are. Other good "live" sources of information about competitors include a company's vendors or suppliers and a company's employees. They may or may not be willing to talk to you, but it's worth seeking them out and asking.

And watch for trade shows that your competitors may be attending. Businesses are there to disseminate information about and sell their products or services; attending and visiting their booths can be an excellent way to find out about your competition.

You'll also want to search for the publicly available information about your competitors. Online publications, newspapers, and magazines may all have information about the company you're investigating for your competitive analysis. Press releases may be particularly useful. 

Once you've compiled the information about your competitors, you're ready to analyze it. 

Analyzing the Competition

Just listing a bunch of information about your competition in the competitor analysis section of the business plan misses the point. It's the analysis of the information that's important.

Study the information you've gathered about each of your competitors and ask yourself this question: How are you going to compete with that company?

For many small businesses, the key to competing successfully is to identify a market niche where they can capture a  specific target market  whose needs are not being met.

  • Is there a particular segment of the market that your competition has overlooked?
  • Is there a service that customers or clients want that your competitor does not supply? 

The goal of your competitor analysis is to identify and expand upon your competitive advantage - the benefits that your proposed business can offer the customer or client that your competition can't or won't supply.

Writing the Competitor Analysis Section

When you're writing the business plan, you'll write the competitor analysis section in the form of several paragraphs. 

The first paragraph will outline the competitive environment, telling your readers who your proposed business's competitors are, how much of the market they control and any other relevant details about the competition.

The second and following paragraphs will detail your competitive advantage, explaining why and how your company will be able to compete with these competitors and establish yourself as a successful business.

Remember; you don't have to go into exhaustive detail here, but you do need to persuade the reader of your business plan that you are knowledgeable about the competition and that you have a clear, definitive plan that will enable your new business to successfully compete.

How to Write a Competitive Analysis for Your Business Plan

Charts and graphs being viewed through a magnifying glass. Represents conducting a competitive analysis to understand your competition.

11 min. read

Updated January 3, 2024

Do you know who your competitors are? If you do, have you taken the time to conduct a thorough competitor analysis?

Knowing your competitors, how they operate, and the necessary benchmarks you need to hit are crucial to positioning your business for success. Investors will also want to see an analysis of the competition in your business plan.

In this guide, we’ll explore the significance of competitive analysis and guide you through the essential steps to conduct and write your own. 

You’ll learn how to identify and evaluate competitors to better understand the opportunities and threats to your business. And you’ll be given a four-step process to describe and visualize how your business fits within the competitive landscape.

  • What is a competitive analysis?

A competitive analysis is the process of gathering information about your competitors and using it to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This information can then be used to develop strategies to improve your own business and gain a competitive advantage.

  • How to conduct a competitive analysis

Before you start writing about the competition, you need to conduct your analysis. Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Identify your competitors

The first step in conducting a comprehensive competitive analysis is to identify your competitors. 

Start by creating a list of both direct and indirect competitors within your industry or market segment. Direct competitors offer similar products or services, while indirect competitors solve the same problems your company does, but with different products or services.

Keep in mind that this list may change over time. It’s crucial to revisit it regularly to keep track of any new entrants or changes to your current competitors. For instance, a new competitor may enter the market, or an existing competitor may change their product offerings.

2. Analyze the market

Once you’ve identified your competitors, you need to study the overall market. 

This includes the market size , growth rate, trends, and customer preferences. Be sure that you understand the key drivers of demand, demographic and psychographic profiles of your target audience , and any potential market gaps or opportunities.

Conducting a market analysis can require a significant amount of research and data collection. Luckily, if you’re writing a business plan you’ll follow this process to complete the market analysis section . So, doing this research has value for multiple parts of your plan.

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3. Create a competitive framework

You’ll need to establish criteria for comparing your business with competitors. You want the metrics and information you choose to provide answers to specific questions. (“Do we have the same customers?” “What features are offered?” “How many customers are being served?”)

Here are some common factors to consider including: 

  • Market share
  • Product/service offerings or features
  • Distribution channels
  • Target markets
  • Marketing strategies
  • Customer service

4. Research your competitors

You can now begin gathering information about your competitors. Because you spent the time to explore the market and set up a comparison framework—your research will be far more focused and easier to complete.

There’s no perfect research process, so start by exploring sources such as competitor websites, social media, customer reviews, industry reports, press releases, and public financial statements. You may also want to conduct primary research by interviewing customers, suppliers, or industry experts.

You can check out our full guide on conducting market research for more specific steps.

5. Assess their strengths and weaknesses

Evaluate each competitor based on the criteria you’ve established in the competitive framework. Identify their key strengths (competitive advantages) and weaknesses (areas where they underperform).

6. Identify opportunities and threats

Based on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, identify opportunities (areas where you can outperform them) and threats (areas where they may outperform you) for your business. 

You can check out our full guide to conducting a SWOT analysis for more specific questions that you should ask as part of each step. 

  • How to write your competitive analysis

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to present your findings in your business plan. Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Determine who your audience is

Who you are writing a business plan for (investors, partners, employees, etc.) may require you to format your competitive analysis differently. 

For an internal business plan you’ll use with your team, the competition section should help them better understand the competition. You and your team will use it to look at comparative strengths and weaknesses to help you develop strategies to gain a competitive advantage.

For fundraising, your plan will be shared with potential investors or as part of a bank loan. In this case, you’re describing the competition to reassure your target reader. You are showing awareness and a firm understanding of the competition, and are positioned to take advantage of opportunities while avoiding the pitfalls.

2. Describe your competitive position

You need to know how your business stacks up, based on the values it offers to your chosen target market. To run this comparison, you’ll be using the same criteria from the competitive framework you completed earlier. You need to identify your competitive advantages and weaknesses, and any areas where you can improve.

The goal is positioning (setting your business up against the background of other offerings), and making that position clear to the target market. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to define your competitive position:

  • How are you going to take advantage of your distinctive differences, in your customers’ eyes? 
  • What are you doing better? 
  • How do you work toward strengths and away from weaknesses?
  • What do you want the world to think and say about you and how you compare to others?

3. Visualize your competitive position

There are a few different ways to present your competitive framework in your business plan. The first is a “positioning map” and the second is a “competitive matrix”. Depending on your needs, you can use one or both of these to communicate the information that you gathered during your competitive analysis:

Positioning map

The positioning map plots two product or business benefits across a horizontal and vertical axis. The furthest points of each represent opposite extremes (Hot and cold for example) that intersect in the middle. With this simple chart, you can drop your own business and the competition into the zone that best represents the combination of both factors.

I often refer to marketing expert Philip Kohler’s simple strategic positioning map of breakfast, shown here. You can easily draw your own map with any two factors of competition to see how a market stacks up.

Competitive positioning map comparing the price and speed of breakfast options. Price sits along the y-axis and speed along the x-axis.

It’s quite common to see the price on one axis and some important qualitative factor on the other, with the assumption that there should be a rough relationship between price and quality.

Competitive matrix

It’s pretty common for most business plans to also include a competitive matrix. It shows how different competitors stack up according to the factors identified in your competitive framework. 

How do you stack up against the others? Here’s what a typical competitive matrix looks like:

Competitive matrix example where multiple business factors are being compared between your business and two competitors.

For the record, I’ve seen dozens of competitive matrices in plans and pitches. I’ve never seen a single one that didn’t show that this company does more of what the market wants than all others. So maybe that tells you something about credibility and how to increase it. Still, the ones I see are all in the context of seeking investment, so maybe that’s the nature of the game.

4. Explain your strategies for gaining a competitive edge

Your business plan should also explain the strategies your business will use to capitalize on the opportunities you’ve identified while mitigating any threats from competition. This may involve improving your product/service offerings, targeting underserved market segments, offering more attractive price points, focusing on better customer service, or developing innovative marketing strategies.

While you should cover these strategies in the competition section, this information should be expanded on further in other areas of your business plan. 

For example, based on your competitive analysis you show that most competitors have the same feature set. As part of your strategy, you see a few obvious ways to better serve your target market with additional product features. This information should be referenced within your products and services section to back up your problem and solution statement. 

  • Why competition is a good thing

Business owners often wish that they had no competition. They think that with no competition, the entire market for their product or service will be theirs. That is simply not the case—especially for new startups that have truly innovative products and services. Here’s why:

Competition validates your idea

You know you have a good idea when other people are coming up with similar products or services. Competition validates the market and the fact that there are most likely customers for your new product. This also means that the costs of marketing and educating your market go down (see my next point).

Competition helps educate your target market

Being first-to-market can be a huge advantage. It also means that you will have to spend way more than the next player to educate customers about your new widget, your new solution to a problem, and your new approach to services. 

This is especially true for businesses that are extremely innovative. These first-to-market businesses will be facing customers that didn’t know that there was a solution to their problem . These potential customers might not even know that they have a problem that can be solved in a better way. 

If you’re a first-to-market company, you will have an uphill battle to educate consumers—an often expensive and time-consuming process. The 2nd-to-market will enjoy all the benefits of an educated marketplace without the large marketing expense.

Competition pushes you

Businesses that have little or no competition become stagnant. Customers have few alternatives to choose from, so there is no incentive to innovate. Constant competition ensures that your marketplace continues to evolve and that your product offering continues to evolve with it.

Competition forces focus & differentiation

Without competition, it’s easy to lose focus on your core business and your core customers and start expanding into areas that don’t serve your best customers. Competition forces you and your business to figure out how to be different than your competition while focusing on your customers. In the long term, competition will help you build a better business.

  • What if there is no competition?

One mistake many new businesses make is thinking that just because nobody else is doing exactly what they’re doing, their business is a sure thing. If you’re struggling to find competitors, ask yourself these questions.

Is there a good reason why no one else is doing it?

The smart thing to do is ask yourself,  “Why isn’t anyone else doing it?”

It’s possible that nobody’s selling cod-liver frozen yogurt in your area because there’s simply no market for it. Ask around, talk to people, and do your market research. If you determine that you’ve got customers out there, you’re in good shape.

But that still doesn’t mean there’s no competition.

How are customers getting their needs met?

There may not be another cod-liver frozen yogurt shop within 500 miles. But maybe an online distributor sells cod-liver oil to do-it-yourselfers who make their own fro-yo at home. Or maybe your potential customers are eating frozen salmon pops right now. 

Are there any businesses that are indirect competitors?

Don’t think of competition as only other businesses that do exactly what you do. Think about what currently exists on the market that your product would displace.

It’s the difference between direct competition and indirect competition. When Henry Ford started successfully mass-producing automobiles in the U.S., he didn’t have other automakers to compete with. His competition was horse-and-buggy makers, bicycles, and railroads.

Do a competitive analysis, but don’t let it derail your planning

While it’s important that you know the competition, don’t get too caught up in the research. 

If all you do is track your competition and do endless competitive analyses, you won’t be able to come up with original ideas. You will end up looking and acting just like your competition. Instead, make a habit of NOT visiting your competition’s website, NOT going into their store, and NOT calling their sales office. 

Focus instead on how you can provide the best service possible and spend your time talking to your customers. Figure out how you can better serve the next person that walks in the door so that they become a lifetime customer, a reference, or a referral source.

If you focus too much on the competition, you will become a copycat. When that happens, it won’t matter to a customer if they walk into your store or the competition’s because you will both be the same.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Table of Contents

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Write the Competition Section: Business Plan Writing

Aayushi Mistry

  • December 21, 2023

11 Min Read

How to write the Competition Section_ Business Plan Writing

What is the Competition Section?

Your business plan includes a lot of operational sections. Every section holds a different importance. In that case, competition is one of the most fundamental aspects of your business. And so, it needs to be added to your business plan. The section that explains your competition is your competition section.

While deciding where to add the competition section, pay attention to the flow of your business plan. Moreover, it also depends on the priority. So, it must come next to your objective, problem statement , product/services, and target audience.

Why Do You Need a Competition Section in Your Business Plan?

The why of your business plan depends on your purpose-

If your purpose is to direct your business growth:

Your competition status can play as your reference point. Here, the competition section serves as a medium for understanding your competition. So, you can develop strategic positioning.

This can help you and your team to look at comparative strengths and weaknesses exclusively. So, you can easily come to the strategies that work in your favor, and give you a competitive advantage .

If your purpose is to create a business plan to seek investment:

You must add it to inform your investors about your competition, market position, and brand promise.

You need to describe the competition to reassure probable investors that you know and understand your competition. And that you are ready to take advantage of opportunities and avoid the pitfalls.

Apart from this, your purpose also makes a difference in how to write your competition section in your business plan. However, the difference is minor, and the effect of it is profound.

How to write a competition section in your business plan?

Regardless of your purpose mentioned above, you have to include all the steps mentioned below. Wherever there is the need for that ‘minor’ change, we will include it under the same step.

While following this step, we suggest you take action side by side. So, it becomes easier to implement. Moreover, before putting up your competition section, be ready with your competition data.

Also, make sure that you have conducted a competitive analysis and processed data of at least 5 competition companies. Once you have everything you need, you can go through the following steps-

1. Determining and Documenting Your Business Position

Regardless of your purpose, you will have to follow this step. And there isn’t any major difference here. You need to know your business position in the market and document it properly. However, we will first talk about the determining part. And then, document it for the competition part of your business plan.

How to determine your market position?

Gather crucial details for your company and your competitors’ companies. When you have all the data, you compare them. And put it up on the competition graph.

The details you will need include:

  • Sales Figures
  • Profit margins
  • Distributors

You can also add the marketing column if you find the need. Here, your goal is to make clear positions with respect to your target markets.

However, there are two most reliable ways to determine your position:

1. Position Mapping Graph

You can do this for 5 main aspects of your business-

  • For product characters
  • The quality of products/services
  • The number of products/services
  • For user/customer friendliness

You can either put all the points in the same graph or use a separate graph for each.

How to do this?

competitor position map

  • Get graph paper and divide it into 4 quadrants
  • Add your parameter(s)
  • Start plotting your and your competition’s point

2. Competitive Matrix

A competitive matrix is a method that helps you determine your competitive advantages. Usually, you put together this tool to note your market credibility. It is an industry analysis tool that compares the characteristics of you and your competition.

competitive analysis matrix

How to do it?

  • You draw out a matrix
  • Position your company and competitors, at the top, the horizontal blocks
  • Put all the aspects you want to compete with, in the vertical blocks
  • Put the tick marks to draw the competition

How to document in the competition section for your business plan?

Once you complete the determination, the documentation is quite easy. In fact, you can put the final graphs in your draft. It will not only give color and variety but also make it easy to understand.

While you put all the graphs together, you have to explain your competition and the parameters that you have selected. Moreover, you can go ahead and explain why the companies are your competition. Also, explain why you picked particular parameters.

Mention the date and time frame in your graphs. It makes it easier to have a deeper knowledge of your competition.

Basically, the documentation is journaling the process of drawing the graphs. You may not want to add every detail. As that could make the entire section a little longer than expected. But at the same time, don’t leave out the important details.

As for the difference, you can follow the same process for both purposes. Only make sure that your draft for your investors has been relatively concise. As for your company draft, you can add as many details as you want.

Why is this step important?

When you follow this step, the process of putting the competition section for your business plan is literally half done. It brings you the clarity that you, your team, and your investors need to make your business successful.

2. Determine and Draft Your Competitive Advantages

Determining the competitive advantage.

This process may look hard. But it is not. In fact, it just includes one step to the above one. It can be done side by side while you are drawing the comparison and putting them together in different graphs.

You have to note and add the points where you are doing better (or can do) better than your competition. And then, note how that bonus point can bring you an advantage(s).

Drafting your competitive advantage

You have to note down your bonus points and explain them in detail. You can use those graphs too for more clarity and variety. It is better that you make this up to the point. If you are writing for the investors, they might just want the rounded points after seeing the graphs.

And if you are using it for directive purposes, even then, it is good to have a well-rounded point. However, you might need the back details along the way ahead. So, you can note it down too.

With this step, you became assertive about your success and future in the market.

If brought in front of your investors, they quickly get a clear idea of whether to invest in your business or not. In a way, it helps you store their faith in your business.

And if you are only planning to put the direction of your company’s success, it gives you a clear picture of your strengths and opportunities. In a way, it restores your faith in your product/services.

3. Put in the customers’ review

This step is just like putting that final nail in the coffin! Plus, regardless of the purpose of your business plan, this step and section remain the same. Even more interesting, it takes less time than the two above-mentioned steps.

Here’s how you do it-

  • Find out the reviews and ratings of all the competitors, you had begun the process with.
  • Be discreet. Don’t only add the good points or the bad points. Add the good, the bad, and the average rating and reviews.
  • You can go ahead and make three sections named- The Good, The Bad, and The Average.
  • Add 10-12 reviews in total and put them in the respective sections (3 or 4 in each).
  • You can find reviews from search engines, social media, websites, forums, and magazines.
  • If you want authentic reviews and have enough time and resources, you can even run surveys. Or contact agencies that run unbiased surveys.

How to draft it-

  • Put them just the way they are, even if they have typos. Try not to tamper with them.
  • Add them at the end of the competition section for your business plan.

Why is this step important

  • To add more clarity and favor to your business.
  • Gives a chunk of customer points of view.
  • Restores your, your team’s, and your investor’s faith in your company.

Basic Template

competition section template

And that’s all about the competition section in the business plan. We hope we have given you all the information that you needed. However, regardless of how you find notes, we have listed the FAQs for the competition section for a business plan. You can refer to it for questions that look similar to yours.

FAQs for your competition section

Answers to commonly asked questions

What if we think that our business does not have competition?

Ideally, every business has competition. If not directly, then indirectly. Basically, there are three types of competition- Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.

Primary: The business that has similar products/services as you and, serves the same target audience.

Secondary: The high-end or low-end services/products as you. There may be a slight change in the target audience, depending on the spending capacity location and more.

Tertiary: They have completely different products/services but satisfy the same needs of your target audience.

So, if you think that you don’t have primary competition. Look closely, you may have a secondary or tertiary competition.

What if that time my competition changes?

You have to run the test from the start and draft the section from scratch. It may be the same even when you want to add and remove the parameter.

Do we need a separate team to draw a competition analysis and draft it in the business plan?

Not importantly. However, it is important for everyone involved in your team to be qualified and have adequate experience. If you think that your team doesn’t have that, you can form or hire a separate team.

How long should the competition section be in the business plan?

It should be detailed. But it must not take up most part of your business plan. Moreover, it also depends on the number of other sections you are adding. And it also depends on what these other sections are. In any case, there is no harm in being concise. No matter who the reader is, we all prefer a quick read.

Where else can we showcase this analysis?

You can use this analysis in marketing and sales strategies. You can even use it to further research and develop your product/services.

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which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

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How to Write a Competitor Analysis for a Business Plan

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

April 28, 2023

Adam Hoeksema

A competitor analysis for your business plan can be an incredibly important part of the business planning process.  By trying to learn as much as you can about your competitors, you can learn a lot about what to expect in your own business.  You can also identify how you can differentiate your business and gain a competitive advantage.  

In this article I plan to walk through the following:

  • What to Include in a Competitor Analysis

How to Find Data on Competitors

Finding competitor data for online businesses, finding competitor data for physical retail businesses, competitor analysis business plan example.

With that as our road map, let’s dive in. 

What is Included in a Business Plan Competitor Analysis

A competitor analysis should include the following components:

Market Overview

  • Key Competitors

Competitor Profiles

Competitive positioning, target market, opportunities and threats.

  • Conclusions and Strategic Recommendations

Begin with a brief overview of the market or industry you operate in, outlining its size, growth trends, and key segments. This will provide context for the competitive analysis and help you understand the market dynamics.  You can often find some great industry trend data from sources like IBISworld . 

Key Competitors 

Make a list of your main competitors, which may include direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer similar products or services, while indirect competitors offer alternatives or substitutes that could fulfill the same customer needs.  

One major turn off for investors and lenders is to say that you have “no competitors.”  You always have competitors.  If you are opening a coffee shop in your town that doesn’t have a coffee shop, your competitor might be the coffee at the local gas station, or coffee made at home.  

For each key competitor, provide a detailed profile that includes:

  • Company background: Briefly describe their history, mission, and size.
  • Market share: Estimate their share of the market compared to yours (if you haven’t started yet you won’t have any market share yet) and other competitors.
  • Product or service offerings: Describe their products or services and how they compare to yours.
  • Pricing strategy: Analyze their pricing model and compare it to your own.
  • Distribution channels: Identify the channels they use to distribute their products or services, such as online, retail stores, or partnerships.
  • Marketing and promotional strategies: Analyze their marketing efforts, including advertising, social media, and public relations.
  • Strengths and weaknesses: Identify their competitive advantages and disadvantages in comparison to your business.

Assess your company's competitive positioning by comparing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) to those of your competitors. Highlight what makes you unique and areas where you can gain a competitive advantage.

Describe your target market and how it differs from your competitors'. Understanding the market segments that your competitors serve will help you better define your own target audience and tailor your marketing strategies accordingly.

Based on your competitor analysis, identify potential opportunities to exploit in the market and threats that your competitors may pose to your business. This can help you develop proactive strategies to mitigate risks and capitalize on growth opportunities.

Conclusion and Strategic Recommendations

Summarize your findings and provide recommendations for how your business can differentiate itself, address competitive challenges, and gain market share. This may include recommendations for product or service development, pricing, marketing strategies, or strategic partnerships.

So one of your initial questions should be where in the world do you find reliable data on your competitors, it's not like you can call them and just ask them for their financial statements and customer database!  

Depending on whether your business is primarily online or a physical location, the approach and tools that I use to do competitive research will differ.  I am going to show you examples of the type of research that I like to do and the data that I am able to pull from a couple of tools that we like to utilize. 

There are a few data points that I like to find for online competitors.  I want to know:

  • How much organic traffic is my competitor's website getting?
  • How much paid traffic is my competitor’s website getting? 
  • How much search volume is there for keywords that I want to compete for?
  • How much would I have to pay per click for keywords that I want to rank for?

In order to find this data I use two tools.  

  • Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Let me show you how I use both tools to gather data on my competitors.

How to Use Ahrefs for Competitor Analysis

Let’s assume I am working on a business plan for a gym in Indianapolis.  I would start by looking at the search volume for “Indianapolis Gyms” which would give me some idea of the number of people searching for this each month.  You can see below that there are 250 monthly searches for this keyword according to Ahrefs. 

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Next, I would look to see which gym is top ranked for that keyword and in this example I found a Lifetime Fitness .  Now I can take that keyword and run it through the Ahrefs Site Explorer and I can now see how much website traffic that particular competitor is getting each month.  This particular website is getting about 800 organic website visitors per month. 

Ahrefs can also estimate how much paid traffic a particular website is receiving each month as well.  

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

If you want to see exactly how I use the Ahrefs tool, check out the short video below:

Watch:  I recorded a demo of using Ahrefs for competitor analysis here. 

How to Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner for Market Research

I also like to use Google Adwords Keyword Planner to gather some additional data about my market.  So again, if I search for “Indianapolis Gyms” I can see Google’s estimate of traffic per month as well as seasonal trends in search volume.  I can also see the average cost per click that advertisers are paying for that keyword.  

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

As you can see, the cost per click ranges from $1.32 to $5.29 for advertisers right now.  If you can see how much paid traffic your competitor is getting on Ahrefs and you know the average cost per click for relevant keywords from Google Keyword Planner, you can back into a rough estimate of how much your competitor is spending on advertising per month.  I think this can be useful as well.  

One other thing you might notice is that Ahrefs seems to have conservative search volume estimates compared to Google Keyword Planner. We saw 250 monthly searches from Ahrefs and 2,400 from Google Keyword Planner.  This should give you some range of how big your market might be. 

If your competition is not an online business, or doesn’t really have much of an online presence, then finding foot traffic data is going to be much more useful for you in your competitor analysis. 

We have partnered with a company called Advan Research to be able to pull foot traffic data reports from their platform. 

Here is some of the really cool data that we can get and how you might use it in your competitor research. 

Monthly Foot Traffic Data

You can pull monthly foot traffic data for your competitors.  This foot traffic data is based on cell phone GPS data and can provide some great insight on potential customer traffic you might expect.  For example, in the graph below we pulled the monthly traffic for a local Steakhouse that gets about 5,000 visitors per month. 

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Daily and Hourly Foot Traffic Data

You can pull foot traffic data for a location by the day and the hour to get an idea of what days and hours are busiest for your competitors and likely to be busiest for you.  

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Customer Location Data

One of the most powerful data reports you can pull on a competitor is a heat map of where their customers are coming from.  If you notice that customers are traveling a long distance to your competitor, you could look at finding a location that is closer to a large segment of your competitors' customers. 

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Annual Revenue Estimate and Revenue per Square Foot Data

Finally, for larger businesses or publicly traded companies, Advan can provide you with estimates of their annual revenue, revenue per square foot and how many square feet they are renting for their business.  Talk about some serious competitor intelligence that can set you ahead and impress your investors and lenders. 

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

The following is an example of a competitor analysis for a restaurant business plan which you can adapt to your own business.  I would also recommend that you incorporate data from Ahrefs, Google Adwords Keyword Planner and our Foot Traffic Data Report into this section of your business plan.  The idea here is to get a good understanding of where the competitors stand and to identify your place in the market. 

I. Competitor Analysis

The purpose of this section is to identify and evaluate the main competitors in the local Italian restaurant industry and to determine our competitive positioning. Understanding the competitive landscape will help us to develop effective strategies that enable us to compete effectively in the market, differentiate ourselves, and carve out a sustainable market share. Our analysis will focus on the following key areas

A. Market Overview

The local Italian restaurant market is valued at approximately $X million and is expected to grow at a CAGR of X% over the next five years. The industry is characterized by the presence of several well-established Italian restaurants, popular chain restaurants, and a few emerging independent restaurants. The primary segments within the industry are fine dining, casual dining, and fast-casual dining.

B. Key Competitors

Competitor A (Fine Dining Italian Restaurant)

Market Share : X%

Strengths: High-quality ingredients, exceptional culinary skills, elegant ambiance, and strong brand recognition.

Weaknesses: High pricing, limited menu offerings, and a focus on a specific customer segment (high-income individuals).

Competitor B (Casual Dining Italian Restaurant)

Market Share: X%

Strengths: Wide variety of Italian dishes, family-friendly atmosphere, and strong customer loyalty.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent food quality, slow service during peak hours, and limited menu innovation.

Competitor C (Fast-Casual Italian Restaurant)

Strengths: Quick service, affordable pricing, and convenient locations.

Weaknesses: Limited menu variety, lack of authentic Italian flavors, and a focus on takeout and delivery over dine-in experiences.

C. Competitive Positioning

Based on our analysis, our competitive positioning is as follows:

Unique Value Proposition: Our primary differentiation lies in our commitment to providing authentic Italian cuisine using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, combined with exceptional customer service in a warm and inviting atmosphere. This will enable us to attract customers seeking a genuine Italian dining experience that sets us apart from competitors.

Competitive Pricing: Our pricing strategy is to offer value for money while maintaining profitability. By carefully selecting our suppliers and managing our costs, we will be able to offer a competitively priced menu without compromising on quality.

Target Market: We will cater to a broad range of customers, including families, couples, and groups of friends, by offering a versatile menu that appeals to various tastes and preferences. Our focus will be on attracting local patrons and tourists alike, who are looking for an authentic and memorable Italian dining experience.

Marketing and Promotion: We will invest in both traditional and digital marketing strategies to create brand awareness and drive customer traffic. This will include targeted social media campaigns, local newspaper advertisements, participation in local food festivals, and collaboration with local businesses and organizations.

I hope this has been helpful in giving you some ideas on how to gather relevant competitor research so that you can make informed decisions about where you locate and start your business. 

If you are interested in our Foot Traffic Data Report to help provide the data for your competitor analysis or other sections of your business plan, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  

About the Author

Adam is the Co-founder of ProjectionHub which helps entrepreneurs create financial projections for potential investors, lenders and internal business planning. Since 2012, over 50,000 entrepreneurs from around the world have used ProjectionHub to help create financial projections.

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which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

How to Write a Competitor Analysis for a Business Plan (with AI in 2023)

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Competitor analysis is a critical component of any business plan. It helps you understand the landscape of your industry, identify opportunities for growth and differentiation, and craft strategies that take advantage of your competitors' weaknesses.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a comprehensive competitor analysis, including how to leverage AI tools like Bizway to make the process more efficient and effective.

Step-by-Step Guide to Performing a Competitor Analysis

1. identify your competitors.

Understanding your competitive landscape begins with pinpointing who your direct and indirect competitors are.

Points to Consider

  • Direct Competitors : Those who offer similar products/services in the same market.
  • Indirect Competitors : Businesses targeting your customer base with different offerings.
  • Utilize market research and customer feedback to list competitors.
  • Identify geographical considerations - local, regional, or global competitors.

2. Analyze Their Products/Services

A thorough examination of competitors’ offerings unveils potential areas for differentiation and enhancement in your product/service line.

  • Feature comparisons.
  • Pricing structures.
  • Unique Selling Propositions (USPs).
  • Adopt a customer-centric approach to understand how consumers perceive competitors’ offerings.
  • Identify gaps in their product/service lines that you could explore.

3. Assess Their Marketing Strategy

Understanding competitors’ marketing approaches aids in crafting a superior, data-driven marketing strategy.

  • Target audience.
  • Key messages and value propositions.
  • Channel effectiveness and presence.
  • Use social listening tools to gauge their social media effectiveness.
  • Analyze the SEO performance of competitors’ websites.

4. Examine Their Sales Strategy

Investigating sales channels and tactics employed by competitors reveals market penetration strategies and potential areas for diversification.

  • Distribution channels.
  • Pricing and sales tactics.
  • Customer relationship management.
  • Secret shop to observe sales tactics and customer experiences.
  • Review customer feedback on their purchasing experience.

5. Analyze Their Strengths and Weaknesses

Identifying what competitors excel in and fall short on enables strategic decision-making in exploiting market opportunities.

  • Operational efficiency.
  • Customer service quality.
  • Brand reputation and loyalty.
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) for each competitor.
  • Leverage customer reviews and testimonials to gauge reputation.

Using AI for Competitor Analysis

Automated data collection.

AI automates the harvesting of data from myriad sources, ensuring robust research while saving time.

  • Use AI tools to scrape and aggregate data from competitors' websites, social media, and customer review platforms.
  • Ensure the data is categorized and stored systematically for easy analysis.

Real-Time Updates

AI provides a competitive edge by monitoring and reporting real-time updates on competitor activities.

  • Set up AI monitoring for specific competitor activity: product launches, PR releases, or marketing campaigns.
  • Ensure to leverage real-time data to inform swift strategic adjustments.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics via AI deciphers patterns and anticipates future competitor moves, positioning your business proactively.

  • Leverage AI to analyze historical data for predicting future trends.
  • Utilize these insights to anticipate and formulate preemptive strategies.

Using Bizway for Competitor Analysis and Business Planning

One such AI tool that can revolutionize your competitor analysis process is Bizway . Bizway is an AI-powered business planning and research app that can help you research your competitors and write your entire competitor analysis with just a few clicks. Moreover, Bizway can assist you in writing your entire business plan, saving you time and providing you with expert-level planning documents.

With Bizway, you can automate the process of generating clear, concise planning docs across all areas of business, from an SEO Content Plan to User Onboarding Plan. It also helps fill knowledge gaps in areas of business you're not well-versed in.

So, whether you're a solopreneur, a small business owner, or an aspiring entrepreneur still in school, Bizway is the AI assistant you need to take your business planning to the next level.

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which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

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which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Mastering Competitive Analysis in Business Plan

6 minutes read

In an ever-competitive business world where agility and innovation reign supreme, understanding the landscape in which your business operates is more than a mere advantage - it's a necessity. Thriving in today's dynamic environment demands a keen understanding not just of your business, but of the ecosystem within which it co-exists. This requires comprehensive awareness of who your competitors are, what they're doing, and how they're doing it. And this is precisely where competitor analysis comes into play.

In this article, you’ll know what competitive analysis is, why it is important and how to perform the analysis in a better way. Let’s dive in.

What Is Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is a strategic business practice that involves evaluating and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of competitors in the same industry or market. The primary goal is to gain insights into the competitive landscape, identify opportunities, and make informed decisions to improve your own business performance.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Key Aspects of Competitor Analysis in Business Plan

Competitor analysis is an essential part of any business plan, providing key insights that drive decision making and strategic planning. Understanding your competition can position your business favorably within the market and give you a competitive edge. This part highlights the critical aspects of competitor analysis you should focus on for effective business planning.

  • Identification of Competitors: Recognizing who your competitors are is the first step. This includes both direct competitors offering similar products or services and indirect competitors who may fulfill the same need in a different way.
  • SWOT Analysis: Assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of your competitors helps in understanding their internal capabilities and external challenges. This analysis aids in developing strategies to capitalize on weaknesses and counteract threats.
  • Market Share and Positioning: Understanding the market share of your competitors and their positioning in the market relative to yours provides valuable insights. It helps identify areas where you can differentiate your products or services.
  • Product and Service Offerings: Analyzing the features, quality, and pricing of your competitors' offerings helps you benchmark your own products or services. It can also reveal areas for improvement or innovation.
  • Marketing and Branding Strategies: Evaluating the marketing and branding strategies of competitors provides insights into how they are reaching and engaging with their target audience. This information can be valuable for refining your own marketing approach.
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: Examining customer reviews and feedback for your competitors' products or services can highlight areas where they excel or fall short. This information can guide your efforts to meet or exceed customer expectations.
  • Technological Advancements: Keeping track of technological advancements adopted by competitors can inform your own technology strategy. It ensures that you stay competitive in terms of innovation.
  • Financial Performance: Analyzing the financial health of your competitors can provide an understanding of their stability and growth potential. This information is crucial for strategic planning.

Overall, competitor analysis is an ongoing process that helps businesses stay informed about industry trends, anticipate changes, and make well-informed decisions to maintain or improve their competitive position.

Why Is Competitive Analysis Important in Business Plan

Conducting a competitor analysis is not just about observing and replicating what others are doing. It's about leveraging this knowledge to formulate a unique and superior strategy that distinguishes your business from the rest. The importance of competitive analysis in a business plan can be seen in the following points:

  • Identify Market Gaps: Through competitor analysis, we can identify unmet needs in the market or gaps in competitors' offerings that can be leveraged as potential business opportunities.
  • Inform Decision Making: By understanding what strategies are working for competitors and why, we can make more informed decisions about our own strategic direction.
  • Predict Competitor Moves: A detailed understanding of competitors can help predict their future actions based on their past behavior. This allows businesses to proactively devise counter-strategies.
  • Benchmark Performance: Comparing key performance indicators (KPIs) against industry competitors helps determine how well your business is doing and where improvements can be made.
  • Reduce Risks: By regularly analyzing competitors, businesses can detect threats early and take preventive measures to reduce potential risks.

Competitor analysis is a critical component of any business strategy. It's not just about keeping tabs on competitors but using this knowledge as a strategic tool for growth and improvement. 

How to Conduct a Great Competitive Analysis in Business Plan

The ability to stay ahead of the competition is vital in the ever-changing business landscape. Boardmix understands that importance and has made it a mission to equip businesses with the right tools to navigate this competitive environment. In this part, you will be led through a step-by-step process on how to conduct a great competitive analysis for your business plan.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Phase 1: Identifying Competitors

Every great competitive analysis starts with identifying your competitors. They can be direct (companies that offer the same products or services as yours) or indirect (companies that offer different products or services that serve the same purpose). With Boardmix's in-depth AI analysis tools, you can easily identify these competitors. Start with a list of 4-10 primary competitors in your market segment and then narrow down to those that directly impact your business.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Phase 2: Analyzing Competitor Products and Services

Once you've identified your competitors, it's time to scrutinize their products or services. Are there features that stand out? Are they priced higher or lower? What is their perceived value among customers? Boardmix provdies a feature can help streamline this process by offering a side-by-side comparison of your products and services with those of your competitors.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Phase 3: Assessing Competitors' Sales and Marketing Strategies

Understanding your competitors' sales and marketing strategies can provide crucial insights into their target audience, key messages, pricing strategy, and distribution channels. Leverage Boardmix's AI and infinite canvas capabilities to gather information about competitors' advertising, public relations, content marketing, SEO strategies, and more.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Phase 4: Examining Competitors’ Strengths and Weaknesses

This step involves analyzing each competitor's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats a SWOT analysis. Their strengths might be superior customer service, unique technology, or robust distribution networks. Weaknesses could be high prices or outdated offerings. Boardmix’s SWOT analysis tool can make this step seamless, helping you uncover potential areas where you can outshine your competition.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Phase 5: Studying Competitors' Market Positioning

How do your competitors position themselves in the market? Boardmix can help answer this by providing insights into competitors' branding strategy, unique selling propositions (USPs), and value proposition. Such an understanding will help you identify gaps you could fill to differentiate yourself in the market.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Phase 6: Ongoing Monitoring of Competitors

Competitive analysis should be an ongoing process due to ever-evolving markets and strategies. That's why Boardmix offers regular updates about changes in the competitive landscape so that you can adapt your strategies accordingly.

In conclusion, competitive analysis is pivotal in staying ahead of the game in business. It informs strategic decisions, helps exploit competitors' weaknesses, identifies market gaps, and creates unique value propositions. With Boardmix by your side, conducting a competitive analysis is made effortless and intuitive, ensuring your business carves out a unique and competitive space in the market.

Join Boardmix to collaborate with your team.

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Business Plan - Competitive Analysis

What is the Competitive Analysis Section of the Business Plan

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Written by Jason Gordon

Updated at August 4th, 2023

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What is the competitive analysis portion of my business plan?

Barriers to entry, competitors, and how you will beat them. In this section, you are trying to identify all of the aspects of the market that could keep you out. Many business plans simply identify the competitors and products that will compete with their intended products/services; however, this is only one-half of the story. If there are a certain number of competitors or competitive product/services, why is that? 

There has to be some factor that keeps others producer/providers from entering the market. These are commonly known as "barriers to entry". In the market analysis, you made the determination that the market is sufficiently big that you could be successful by grabbing even a conservative percentage. So, now:

  • Tell why others aren't entering the market;
  • Tell why you will be able to enter the market;
  • List those who are going to attempt to keep you from taking their market share or will try to take your market share;
  • List how you will be successful in taking their share, making the pie bigger, or fighting off their attempts.

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If there is market potential, why are others NOT in this awesome market?

What are your barriers to entry? Assuming that you are not yet in the market, what is it going to take to get there? This will generally be the same explanation as to why others are not in the market. Remember, the chances are not good that you are the first person or business to come up with an idea for a product or service. There has to be something that is keeping others out. This may not be obvious at first, but identifying these early will allow you to make adjustments to meet these hurdles. Identify the barriers to entry and explain how they may affect your business or industry. Common barriers to entry include:

Funding or Capital Concerns  

How much capital is required upfront? Will it require some level of revolving capital needs? Where are you going to get this capital?

Legal Barriers (Licensing, Regulatory approval)  

Is there a required state or federal license? Does the product or service require inspection and approval by a state or federal regulatory agency? Is the business subject to some state or federal regulation that is subject to change? (ex. Labor laws, foreign embargos, etc.)

Costs of Production  

Is there a cost of production that is inhibitive in starting out?(Ex.Many older companies avoid the high cost of production due to production methods established when costs were lower.)

Cost of Sales and Marketing  

Suppose you have the perfect product. How are you going to let people know about it? (Remember, the Apple operating system was superior that of Microsoft in the early days of each company. Nonetheless, Microsoft dominated the market with a largelyinferior product.) Can you market and pitch sales sufficiently to create customer awareness and drive sales of your product. Often you will have to market far more than the established brands in order to convert existing customers to your product.

Logistical Concerns

How are you going get your raw material or other supplies for conducting business. How are you going to deliver your goods or services to your customers? Will it involve outsourcing or international shipping? Will this require strategic presence or distribution centers in various locations? All of these go into logistical concerns. Basically, you need to brainstorm of how every aspect of the business that requires the movement of product or material from one place to another will take place. Much of this information can be gleaned from competitors or businesses with similar business models. Understanding the logistical concerns will allow you to estimate costs and budgeting. Further, you may uncover a logistical aspect that supplies a competitive advantage to another business or, potentially, your planned business.

Required Skills and Knowledge

Who are you going to need to involve in order to carry out your business? It's a common mistake for the entrepreneur to believe that he or she can carry on too many of the actual business functions. If you haven't realized, you will be preoccupied with countless tasks and will not be able to carry on many of the tasks that you now assume will be your responsibility. You need to have an understanding of what you don't know have the time or ability to do. Again, look to competitors or similar businesses to determine the skills or market knowledge necessary to carry on your planned business operations.

Employee Concerns

Employee concerns are countless and daunting. There is no way to project for the types of employee troubles that you may face in starting your business. Types of employee issues include: hiring, training, employee benefits (healthcare, retirement), union negotiations, lawsuits (discrimination or hostile environment), and firing. The employee concerns for which you can plan include hiring, training, and employee benefits. All of these issues can entail considerable costs that were not previously anticipated. Planning and buying insurance for unplanned legal events can help to minimize these issues.

Intellectual Property

How are you going to protect your process or product? Does your product or service involve or potentially infringe on the intellectual property rights of others? Generally, the only way to protect your intellectual property is through patent, trademark, copyright, or trade secret. Some businesses develop around a product or service with the idea that they can start up under the radar of competitors and then grow quickly before competitors can catch up. This is commonly referred to as, "running faster" than the competition. In general, this is a last resort strategy as outrunning a competitor with superior funding is very difficult. Start by looking at the nature of your product or service and try to determine the best way to protect or establish defendable ownership or intellectual property rights.

Every business is going to pay taxes on the identifiable profit. The question is how much tax you will have to pay. Are there any tax advantages that exist for carrying on your business? Importantly, what tax advantages are your competitors employing that allow them to carry on business in an otherwise unprofitable venture. For example, there may be economic development or energy savings associated with your business venture. Another example is the effect or choosing a particular business entity above another. If you are going to need to use Net Operating Losses from the current year to offset personal income tax then an LLC may be a better option than an S-Corporation. Again, a percentage of tax savings can make a considerable difference in the profit margin or overall profitability of your business.

Strong Competitors

How strong are the competitors? What tactics are they likely to employ to defeat your product or service or to keep you from stealing market share? A large, well-capitalized competitor may be able to engage in a price war that you cannot withstand. This will require both primary and secondary research of your actual and potential competitors. (This concept is developed further below.)

Now, address each of the above-listed competitive barriers and explain how you will deal with the current situation, the situation that will arise along your projected growth path, and any contingent changes in these factors that could affect these businesses.  

Competitive Analysis - Who Will You Have to Compete within This Market Space?

Who will be your competitors? Here you should prepare an exhaustive list of the players who will compete against you in your immediately relevant and prospective markets.

  • List each competitor's name, location, and give a brief profile of their product or service.
  • Create sub-categories and groupings for the competitors who are your most direct competitors.
  • Classify the extent to why the subcategorized competitors are the greatest threat. (You will list aspects such as location, percentage of the market held - customer base, type of product or service lines, competitive or innovative nature of the firm, etc.)
  • Expand on the secondary or indirect competitors. (Give an explanation of why you believe their product or service is a competitor to yours. This could explain how their product or service is a substitute product. Explain the situation in which these secondary or indirect competitors would be the greatest threat to your projected business, e.g., if they offer an inferior good (product or service) then a downturn in the economy may drive customers away from your more economically elastic product.
  • Explain how your product or service is superior (or competitively advantaged) against each competitor's product service. The most difficult part of this component is identifying all of the characteristics that customers covet in the product or service, such as: design, speed, ease of use, dependability, price, customer service, etc. It may be useful to use a table listing the attributes of the products side-by-side. This allows for quick assessment by third-parties, as well as provides a framework for you to conceptualize the market position of your product or service. You can create multiple tables comparing your product or service to each category or individual competitor. You will need to compile the lists of competitive factors for that competitor or competitor's product. Note: These individual tables may not fit within the body of the business plan. You can always append or attach them to the end of the business plan.

Developing a Competitive Analysis section requires a great deal of research and knowledge about other businesses' products or services; however, the most difficult portion is assessing your product or service strength and weaknesses. In developing this section it is important to as honest and objective as possible in analyzing your value proposition. It may be useful to enlist third parties who are unbiased or unrelated to your business to provide their opinion on your product. This will help avoid the cognitive bias that nearly all entrepreneurs have when assessing the competitive strengths of their own product or service. Remember, even if you can explain away any fears or negative perceptions that customers have about your product, the customer's input is extremely valuable. You will not be there to explain away these fears or concerns at the point in which the customer learns of the product. These will be the perception issues that you have to address in marketing your product or service.

Related Topics

  • Business Plan, Part 1 (Outline Overview)
  • Business Plan, Part 2 (The Executive Summary)
  • What is a Mission Statement?
  • What is a Values Statement?
  • Setting Company Goals
  • Business Plan, Part 4 (Market Analysis)
  • Business Plan, Part 5 (Competitive Analysis)
  • Business Plan, Part 6 (Marketing Plan)
  • Business Plan, Part 7 (Operations)
  • Business Plan, Part 8  (Management and Organization)
  • Business Plan, Part 9 (Financial Projections)
  • Business Plan, Part 10 (Appendices)
  • Business Plan , (Final Modifications)

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How to write a business plan: markets and competitors

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and military strategist, famously said: "If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of 100 battles." It might not be war, but a business plan which shows an understanding of your target market and competition is an entrepreneur's secret weapon. We asked the experts for their advice on how to write the 'marketing and competitors' part of a plan:

Carol Cheesman, principal of Cheesmans Accountants .

Once you know your target audience you'll know how to market your business in a way that speaks to them. If you're looking to raise funds then you must be able to demonstrate this knowledge to your potential investors. Without it you won't convince them that your business idea is worth supporting. Familiarise yourself with your target audience – key characteristics, trends and the expected size of your audience. This is also useful when you come to the 'projected sales' section of your business plan.

Gus Sellitto, co-founder and managing director of specialist legal PR agency, Byfield Consultancy

This part of the business plan is all about who you are going to sell to, what they need and who else is supplying the same goods or services as you. When it comes to competitors, one of the most useful tools is to identify the key success factors in your market – for example, price, rapid response, customer feedback – and rank them by importance. Rank how well you're doing (or could do) on these factors against two or three of your closest competitors. Once you have identified what your key success factors are from the customers' viewpoint, you can go on to identity key performance indicators and measure and monitor them.

John Davis, managing director of the Formations Company

It is simply not enough to be aware of your competitors, you must get to know them. You should understand their size, profitability and market share, and create a list of their products and services, pricing structure and how they attract customers. A competitor analysis grid is a good way to identify what makes your products and services unique. But it needs to be reviewed regularly. Whether it's weekly, monthly or quarterly, the key is to be consistently aware. Remember markets change all the time, and so will your competitors. New businesses will join your industry and existing businesses will adapt to changing markets. It is therefore important to treat market and competitor analysis as an ongoing project to be reviewed on a regular basis, allowing you to always stay ahead of the curve.

Goncalo de Vasconcelos, founder of crowdfunding platform, SyndicateRoom

First rule – never say you have no competitors. As much as you may feel you are completely unique, there will be people out there doing something similar. This is your opportunity to not only highlight who these competitors are, but also explain why your product or service is superior to theirs. In fact, listing your competitors is far more beneficial to you at this point, because it is another opportunity to boast about your expertise. After you have identified your direct and indirect rivals, you need to be clear about who your target audience is. You are making a case for your relevance in the market so the more you can back this up, the better. Be detailed in your descriptions – consider including a pen portrait of your typical customer and ensure you are breaking down your target customers into socioeconomic groups.

Dr Simon Haslam heads the strategy and marketing faculty at the Institute of Directors

Every business plan should have, at its heart, a sound marketing strategy designed to stimulate, facilitate and fulfil customer demand. There a few things to remember when designing a marketing strategy. First, avoid trying to be all things to all people. Second, recognise strategic marketing is a process, rather than a one-off act. Third, accept that the customer is the world's best authority on how to spend his or her money. Fourth, you're probably not going to go too far wrong if you listen to customers and deliver what they say they want.

However, the more entrepreneurially oriented will be able to read between the lines and understand what customers really want, but are unable to articulate, and think one step ahead, designing value propositions pitched far enough ahead of today to be different and close enough to people's reference points to give ideas commercial traction.

For more tips on how to write a business plan, read our tips on the executive summary and 'the business' sections.

Sign up to become a member of the Guardian Small Business Network here for more advice, insight and best practice direct to your inbox.

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How to create a competitive analysis (with examples)

Team Asana contributor image

Competitive analysis involves identifying your direct and indirect competitors using research to reveal their strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own. In this guide, we’ll outline how to do a competitive analysis and explain how you can use this marketing strategy to improve your business.

Whether you’re running a business or playing in a football game, understanding your competition is crucial for success. While you may not be scoring touchdowns in the office, your goal is to score business deals with clients or win customers with your products. The method of preparation for athletes and business owners is similar—once you understand your strengths and weaknesses versus your competitors’, you can level up. 

What is a competitive analysis?

Competitive analysis involves identifying your direct and indirect competitors using research to reveal their strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own. 

[inline illustration] What is a competitive analysis (infographic)

Direct competitors market the same product to the same audience as you, while indirect competitors market the same product to a different audience. After identifying your competitors, you can use the information you gather to see where you stand in the market landscape. 

What to include in a competitive analysis

The purpose of this type of analysis is to get a competitive advantage in the market and improve your business strategy. Without a competitive analysis, it’s difficult to know what others are doing to win clients or customers in your target market. A competitive analysis report may include:

A description of your company’s target market

Details about your product or service versus the competitors’

Current and projected market share, sales, and revenues

Pricing comparison

Marketing and social media strategy analysis

Differences in customer ratings

You’ll compare each detail of your product or service versus the competition to assess strategy efficacy. By comparing success metrics across companies, you can make data-driven decisions.

How to do a competitive analysis

Follow these five steps to create your competitive analysis report and get a broad view of where you fit in the market. This process can help you analyze a handful of competitors at one time and better approach your target customers.

1. Create a competitor overview

In step one, select between five and 10 competitors to compare against your company. The competitors you choose should have similar product or service offerings and a similar business model to you. You should also choose a mix of both direct and indirect competitors so you can see how new markets might affect your company. Choosing both startup and seasoned competitors will further diversify your analysis.

Tip: To find competitors in your industry, use Google or Amazon to search for your product or service. The top results that emerge are likely your competitors. If you’re a startup or you serve a niche market, you may need to dive deeper into the rankings to find your direct competitors.

2. Conduct market research

Once you know the competitors you want to analyze, you’ll begin in-depth market research. This will be a mixture of primary and secondary research. Primary research comes directly from customers or the product itself, while secondary research is information that’s already compiled. Then, keep track of the data you collect in a user research template .

Primary market research may include: 

Purchasing competitors’ products or services

Interviewing customers

Conducting online surveys of customers 

Holding in-person focus groups

Secondary market research may include:

Examining competitors’ websites

Assessing the current economic situation

Identifying technological developments 

Reading company records

Tip: Search engine analysis tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can help you examine competitors’ websites and obtain crucial SEO information such as the keywords they’re targeting, the number of backlinks they have, and the overall health of their website. 

3. Compare product features

The next step in your analysis involves a comparison of your product to your competitors’ products. This comparison should break down the products feature by feature. While every product has its own unique features, most products will likely include:

Service offered

Age of audience served

Number of features

Style and design

Ease of use

Type and number of warranties

Customer support offered

Product quality

Tip: If your features table gets too long, abbreviate this step by listing the features you believe are of most importance to your analysis. Important features may include cost, product benefits, and ease of use.

4. Compare product marketing

The next step in your analysis will look similar to the one before, except you’ll compare the marketing efforts of your competitors instead of the product features. Unlike the product features matrix you created, you’ll need to go deeper to unveil each company’s marketing plan . 

Areas you’ll want to analyze include:

Social media

Website copy

Press releases

Product copy

As you analyze the above, ask questions to dig deeper into each company’s marketing strategies. The questions you should ask will vary by industry, but may include:

What story are they trying to tell?

What value do they bring to their customers?

What’s their company mission?

What’s their brand voice?

Tip: You can identify your competitors’ target demographic in this step by referencing their customer base, either from their website or from testimonials. This information can help you build customer personas. When you can picture who your competitor actively targets, you can better understand their marketing tactics. 

5. Use a SWOT analysis

Competitive intelligence will make up a significant part of your competitor analysis framework, but once you’ve gathered your information, you can turn the focus back to your company. A SWOT analysis helps you identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses. It also helps turn weaknesses into opportunities and assess threats you face based on your competition.

During a SWOT analysis, ask yourself:

What do we do well?

What could we improve?

Are there market gaps in our services?

What new market trends are on the horizon?

Tip: Your research from the previous steps in the competitive analysis will help you answer these questions and fill in your SWOT analysis. You can visually present your findings in a SWOT matrix, which is a four-box chart divided by category.

6. Identify your place in the market landscape

The last step in your competitive analysis is to understand where you stand in the market landscape. To do this, you’ll create a graph with an X and Y axis. The two axes should represent the most important factors for being competitive in your market. 

For example, the X-axis may represent customer satisfaction, while the Y-axis may represent presence in the market. You’ll then plot each competitor on the graph according to their (x,y) coordinates. You’ll also plot your company on this chart, which will give you an idea of where you stand in relation to your competitors. 

This graph is included for informational purposes and does not represent Asana’s market landscape or any specific industry’s market landscape. 

[inline illustration] Identify your place in the market landscape (infographic)

Tip: In this example, you’ll see three companies that have a greater market presence and greater customer satisfaction than yours, while two companies have a similar market presence but higher customer satisfaction. This data should jumpstart the problem-solving process because you now know which competitors are the biggest threats and you can see where you fall short. 

Competitive analysis example

Imagine you work at a marketing startup that provides SEO for dentists, which is a niche industry and only has a few competitors. You decide to conduct a market analysis for your business. To do so, you would:

Step 1: Use Google to compile a list of your competitors. 

Steps 2, 3, and 4: Use your competitors’ websites, as well as SEO analysis tools like Ahrefs, to deep-dive into the service offerings and marketing strategies of each company. 

Step 5: Focusing back on your own company, you conduct a SWOT analysis to assess your own strategic goals and get a visual of your strengths and weaknesses. 

Step 6: Finally, you create a graph of the market landscape and conclude that there are two companies beating your company in customer satisfaction and market presence. 

After compiling this information into a table like the one below, you consider a unique strategy. To beat out your competitors, you can use localization. Instead of marketing to dentists nationwide like your competitors are doing, you decide to focus your marketing strategy on one region, state, or city. Once you’ve become the known SEO company for dentists in that city, you’ll branch out. 

[inline illustration] Competitive analysis framework (example)

You won’t know what conclusions you can draw from your competitive analysis until you do the work and see the results. Whether you decide on a new pricing strategy, a way to level up your marketing, or a revamp of your product, understanding your competition can provide significant insight.

Drawbacks of competitive analysis

There are some drawbacks to competitive analysis you should consider before moving forward with your report. While these drawbacks are minor, understanding them can make you an even better manager or business owner. 

Don’t forget to take action

You don’t just want to gather the information from your competitive analysis—you also want to take action on that information. The data itself will only show you where you fit into the market landscape. The key to competitive analysis is using it to problem solve and improve your company’s strategic plan .

Be wary of confirmation bias

Confirmation bias means interpreting information based on the beliefs you already hold. This is bad because it can cause you to hold on to false beliefs. To avoid bias, you should rely on all the data available to back up your decisions. In the example above, the business owner may believe they’re the best in the SEO dental market at social media. Because of this belief, when they do market research for social media, they may only collect enough information to confirm their own bias—even if their competitors are statistically better at social media. However, if they were to rely on all the data available, they could eliminate this bias.

Update your analysis regularly

A competitive analysis report represents a snapshot of the market landscape as it currently stands. This report can help you gain enough information to make changes to your company, but you shouldn’t refer to the document again unless you update the information regularly. Market trends are always changing, and although it’s tedious to update your report, doing so will ensure you get accurate insight into your competitors at all times. 

Boost your marketing strategy with competitive analysis

Learning your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will make you a better marketer. If you don’t know the competition you’re up against, you can’t beat them. Using competitive analysis can boost your marketing strategy and allow you to capture your target audience faster.

Competitive analysis must lead to action, which means following up on your findings with clear business goals and a strong business plan. Once you do your competitive analysis, you can use the templates below to put your plan into action.

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What Is Competitive Analysis and How to Do It Effectively

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Rebecca Strehlow, Copywriter at Crunchbase

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, market researcher or marketing enthusiast, knowing your competitors inside and out is a crucial part of the job. 

Competitive analysis is more than a quick online search; instead, it’s a systematic process that allows you to gain valuable insights into your competitive environment. By examining the strengths, weaknesses, strategies and market positions of rival companies, you can make informed decisions that help you come out on top.

Let’s dive into what competitor analysis is and how to do it, as well as the tools and templates you need to thrive in the modern market.

What is competitive analysis? 

Competitor analysis, often referred to as competitive analysis, is the systematic process of gathering and evaluating information about your competitors to gain a deep understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry. It involves delving into your competitors’ business models, marketing practices, product offerings, target audiences and much more.

This practice helps you keep a pulse on competing products in the market and make well-informed decisions for your business. It also enables you to find opportunities for growth, anticipate trends and proactively respond to potential threats.

Benefits of competitor analysis

The advantages of doing competitive analysis can have a meaningful impact on your bottom line. Here are just some of its key benefits: 

  • Informed decision-making: By understanding your competitors’ strategies, you can make well-informed decisions about your own business. This includes choices related to product development, marketing and pricing.
  • Identification of market opportunities: Competitor analysis can reveal gaps in the market or areas where your competitors may be underperforming. These insights can help you identify new opportunities for growth and expansion.
  • Risk mitigation: By staying aware of your competitors’ activities, you can better anticipate potential threats and challenges. This proactive approach enables you to develop strategies to effectively mitigate risks and overcome threats before they happen.
  • Benchmarking: Comparing your business to competitors helps establish benchmarks for performance. This allows you to measure your progress and identify areas where you excel or need improvement.
  • Product and service enhancement: Analyzing competitors’ products and services can inspire improvements in your offerings, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Improved marketing strategy: Understanding how your competitors market their products or services can help you refine your own marketing strategy to better reach your target audience.
  • Adaptation to market shifts: The business environment is constantly evolving. Competitor analysis helps you stay agile and adapt to changes in customer preferences, technology and market trends.
  • Competitive advantage: Armed with insights from competitive analysis, you can develop strategies to gain a competitive advantage in your industry.
  • Long-term sustainability : Consistent competitor analysis allows your business to plan for the long term by identifying potential challenges and opportunities that may arise in the future.

Together, these benefits can empower you to thrive in the face of competition and establish a strong presence in the market. 

Competitor analysis benefits

How to do competitor analysis 

To harness these advantages, you’ll need to learn how to perform competitive analysis effectively. The process is quite structured and involves several key steps to ensure that you gather relevant data and gain actionable insights.

  • Identify your competitors
  • Define your objectives
  • Collect data
  • Look for the 4 Ps
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis

1. Identify your competitors

To pinpoint your competitors, create a list of organizations that compete with you both directly and indirectly in the marketplace. 

Direct competitors are organizations that offer similar products or services to the same target audience. In other words, they’re the businesses that potential customers could choose instead of your company.

To identify your direct competition, start by examining businesses that operate in the same industry or niche. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Who offers products or services that are nearly identical to ours?
  • Who targets the same customer segments and geographical areas as we do?
  • Who are our primary rivals when it comes to market share and sales?

Once you have identified these direct competitors, you can create a list or spreadsheet to keep track of their names, key characteristics and any available data that will be useful in your analysis.

Next, you’ll want to identify your indirect competitors. Indirect competitors serve a similar target market as your company, but may offer different products or services. They are indirect rivals because they can influence consumer choices, even though they are not in direct competition with your business. To identify indirect competitors:

  • Look for businesses that serve the same customer needs, even if their products or services are not identical to yours.
  • Consider how customers might choose between your offerings and those of indirect competitors.
  • Examine businesses that could potentially expand into your market.

Including both direct and indirect competitors in your analysis provides a more holistic view of your competitive landscape and helps you anticipate shifts in consumer preferences or market dynamics.

Remember that the business environment is constantly changing, and new competitors may emerge over time. Regularly updating your list of competitors is essential to ensure that your competitor analysis stays relevant.

2. Define your objectives

The next step in competitive analysis is to clearly outline your objectives. This will ensure that you’re gathering relevant information that directly supports your business strategy. Here’s how to define your objectives effectively:

  • Clarify your goals: Begin by outlining your overarching goals. Common objectives may include improving market share, optimizing pricing strategies, enhancing product development or refining marketing tactics.
  • Identify your information needs: Use your goals to determine exactly what kind of information you’ll need. Ask yourself: What kind of data or insights will be most helpful in achieving your stated objectives? For example, if you want to improve product development, you may need data on your competitors’ product features, customer reviews and pricing.
  • Develop KPIs: Write down the key performance indicators that are most relevant to your objectives. KPIs are quantifiable metrics that will help you measure your progress. For instance, if your goal is to enhance marketing strategies, relevant KPIs might include website traffic, conversion rates or social media engagement.
  • Determine a time frame: Understanding the time frame of this project will influence the depth and scope of your analysis. Are you conducting a one-time competitor analysis, or is this an ongoing process? 
  • Align with business strategy: Ensure that the above aligns with your overall business strategy. Your competitor analysis should directly contribute to the success and growth of your business.
  • Adapt when necessary: Be open to adjusting your objectives as needed. The business landscape can change rapidly, and you may need to adapt in response to new opportunities or challenges.

When you define your objectives, you give yourself a clear roadmap for your research. This helps you focus on gathering the most pertinent data and ensures that your analysis directly benefits your business. Whether you’re looking to outperform competitors in a particular area or gain a broader understanding of the competitive landscape, well-defined objectives are the cornerstone of a successful analysis. 

3. Collect data

Effective data collection is another fundamental step in the competitor analysis process, as the quality and relevance of the data you gather directly influence the insights you gain. Begin by identifying data sources that will give you the information you’re looking for. These sources can include both online and offline channels.

Online sources are often the richest and most accessible. Common data sources for competitive monitoring include:

  • Crunchbase : Crunchbase is a valuable resource for gathering data about companies, including your competitors. It offers details about a company’s firmographics, funding, leadership team, investor relationships and key metrics. This data helps you understand your competitors’ financial health, investment history, growth strategies and potential areas of expansion. 
  • Company websites: Competitor websites are valuable sources of information about your competitors’ products, services, pricing and promotional strategies. They provide direct insights into how your competitors present themselves to customers and the market. 
  • Social media: Social media platforms such as Facebook , X (formerly Twitter) , Instagram and LinkedIn offer a glimpse into your competitors’ marketing and promotional efforts. Analyze their posts, content engagement and follower interactions to understand their messaging and customer engagement strategies. You can also use social media to monitor comments, reviews and conversations to gauge customer sentiment and identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Customer review sites: Review sites like G2 , Capterra or dedicated industry-specific review platforms also offer candid customer feedback. Analyze the reviews to understand customer satisfaction levels, identify pain points and discover areas where your competitors excel or underperform. Some reviews may also mention pricing, which can help you determine how customers perceive the value of your competitors’ products or services.
  • Market reports: Market research companies like Nielsen , Gartner , Forrester and Euromonitor International often produce comprehensive market reports across various industries. They often include data on market size, growth projections and emerging opportunities, helping you assess the overall landscape your competitors operate in. Market reports may also include company profiles, giving you information about their market share, strategies and financial performance. 
  • Industry publications: Business publications and journals often publish in-depth articles and analysis about trends, innovations and market players. They can provide valuable information about your competitors’ strategies, market positioning and noteworthy developments. Crunchbase News , which offers data-driven reporting on private markets, is a great place to start.
  • Government databases: Government databases can provide access to financial and regulatory information about companies, including your competitors. This data may include financial statements, business registrations and industry-specific regulatory compliance, helping you understand their financial health and legal compliance.

As you gather this data, make sure you have an organized place to put it. A good idea is to create a competitor matrix, also referred to as a competitor grid, which is a spreadsheet for organizing your research. List out your competitors on one axis of the grid (either the horizontal or vertical axis is fine). On the other axis, list the data points you’re looking to collect, such as company location, market position, price and branding.

A couple additional notes: pay attention to both your data accuracy as well as any ethical considerations. Confirm that the information you gather is up to date and reliable, as outdated or inaccurate data can lead to erroneous conclusions. On top of that, be mindful of legal requirements. Respect privacy rights, copyright and intellectual property laws when gathering data.

Crunchbase company data

4. Look for the 4 Ps

Next, you’ll want to analyze your competitors’ marketing strategies. A systematic way to approach this is by looking at the 4 Ps of marketing, also known as the marketing mix. These are product, price, place and promotion, which you can break down into the following questions:

  • What are the key features and attributes of our competitors’ products?
  • How does the quality of our competitors’ products compare to ours?
  • Are there any unique or innovative features in our competitors’ products that we should be aware of?
  • What is the product life cycle of our competitors’ offerings, and how does that impact their market presence?
  • How do our competitors brand and position their products in the market?
  • Do our competitors offer a wide product range, or do they focus on a niche market?
  • What are the customer reviews and feedback on our competitors’ products, and what strengths or weaknesses do they highlight?
  • How do our competitors handle product updates, customer support and warranties?
  • What are the pricing strategies employed by our competitors (e.g., premium, value, competitive or penetration pricing)?
  • How do our competitors price their products or services compared to our pricing?
  • What types of discounts, promotions or special offers do our competitors use, and how frequently do they change them?
  • Do our competitors offer bundle pricing or product packages?
  • How do our competitors handle pricing changes and adjustments based on market conditions or demand?
  • What is the perceived value of our competitors’ products or services in relation to their pricing?
  • Are there any loyalty programs or customer rewards related to pricing that our competitors offer?
  • How do competitors communicate their pricing to customers, and does it align with their branding and positioning strategies?

Place (distribution)

  • What distribution channels do our competitors use to reach their customers (e.g., direct sales, retailers, e-commerce or wholesalers)?
  • How extensive is the geographic reach of our competitors’ distribution networks?
  • Are there specific partnerships or collaborations that our competitors have with distributors or retailers?
  • What is the availability and accessibility of our competitors’ products or services, both online and offline?
  • How do our competitors handle inventory management, logistics and fulfillment to ensure timely delivery to customers?
  • Do our competitors have a physical presence, and how does it impact their brand and customer engagement?
  • What is the overall customer experience with the distribution and availability of our competitors’ offerings?
  • Are there any supply chain or distribution challenges that our competitors face?
  • What are the core elements of our competitors’ marketing and advertising strategies (e.g., online ads, content marketing, social media, traditional media)?
  • How do our competitors position their brand, and what is their unique selling proposition?
  • What messaging and tone do our competitors use in their advertising and marketing campaigns?
  • How do our competitors engage with customers on social media, and how do they manage their online reputation?
  • What content marketing tactics do our competitors employ to educate and engage their audience?
  • Do our competitors use influencer marketing or partnerships with other brands or organizations?
  • What customer feedback, testimonials or case studies do our competitors use in their promotional materials?
  • How do our competitors measure the success and impact of their promotional efforts, and what adjustments do they make based on these metrics?

These questions will force you to think hard about your competitors and the ways they position their product or service in the market. Be sure to make a note of these data points so you have an organized spreadsheet with your competitive analysis. 

5. Conduct a SWOT analysis

Now, conduct a SWOT analysis using all the data and insights you’ve gathered. A SWOT analysis is a competitive analysis framework for systematically evaluating your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Create a table or slide deck with the following notes about each competitor:

  • Strengths: Consider areas like product quality, brand reputation, financial stability and unique capabilities. What does your competitor excel at? What are their key assets and resources? What advantages do they have over your business and other competitors?
  • Weaknesses: Analyze your competitors’ weaknesses, which are internal factors that put them at a disadvantage. Evaluate areas where they struggle, such as customer service issues, product limitations or operational inefficiencies. Where does your competitor fall short? What are their operational or financial weaknesses? Are there aspects of their products or services that receive consistent criticism?
  • Opportunities: Consider the external factors and opportunities that your competitors can capitalize on. These may include market trends, emerging customer needs, technological advancements or changes in regulations. Here, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions: What market opportunities are your competitors pursuing? Are there emerging trends that they are well-positioned to benefit from? How do they adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands?
  • Threats: Evaluate the external factors and threats that pose risks to your competitors’ business. These could be increased competition, economic downturns, changing consumer preferences or regulatory challenges. What are the external threats that our competitors face? How do market or industry conditions pose risks to their operations? Are there competitive pressures that could erode their market share?

After identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your competitors, it’s time to analyze the findings. Look for connections and relationships between these factors. For example, how do strengths offset weaknesses, or how can opportunities be leveraged to mitigate threats? Consider how these factors impact your competitors’ overall competitive positioning.

SWOT analysis

Competitive analysis templates

Competitive analysis is a complex task, but you don’t have to start from scratch. These competitor analysis templates provide a structured framework for gathering and analyzing data about your competitors:

  • Competitor research template
  • Competitor matrix template
  • Social media competitor analysis template
  • SWOT analysis template

1. Competitor research template

This advanced search template is a helpful starting point for gathering data about competing companies. You can customize the template by adding multiple search filters, such as industry, geographic location and funding information, to pull up the companies that match your competitor profiles. The more you fine-tune your search, the more precise your list of competitors will be.

2. Competitor matrix template

A competitor matrix template , like this one from HubSpot , allows you to systematically compare key features, pricing and other attributes of your products or services with those of your competitors. By comparing these attributes side by side, you can better assess your biggest threats and identify areas where your business can excel.

3. Social media competitor analysis template

This social media competitor analysis template offers a structured framework for assessing and comparing your social media performance with that of your competitors. With sections for tracking key metrics, content strategies, audience engagement and more, this template simplifies the process of understanding how your social media efforts stack up against the competition. 

4. SWOT analysis template

This SWOT analysis template represents one of the most important types of competitive analysis templates. A template can simplify the SWOT analysis process and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, helping you identify areas for improvement, capitalize on advantages and mitigate potential risks.

Competitive analysis examples

To understand how competitive analysis works in practice, let’s explore a few real-world examples that highlight its significance within different industries:

1. Apple vs. Samsung

Tech giants Apple and Samsung have long been rivals in the smartphone market. Both companies must scrutinize each other’s product launches, innovations and market share to stay competitive. Their competitive analysis involves a deep dive into one another’s product features, pricing strategies, branding and marketing tactics. 

2. Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have engaged in one of the most iconic and enduring business rivalries. Competitor analysis here includes assessing their advertising campaigns, product diversification, distribution networks and customer preferences. These two giants need to continuously monitor each other’s market positioning in order to win over consumers.

3. Amazon vs. Walmart

Amazon and Walmart are leaders in e-commerce and retail. They must perform ongoing competitive analysis to compare delivery speeds, pricing structures, customer experience and market expansion strategies. Both companies are committed to staying ahead by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the other.

4. Airbnb vs. Booking.com

Another iconic competitor analysis example is within the online travel industry. Airbnb and Booking.com are key competitors that need to evaluate each other’s user reviews, property listings, pricing and website user experience. Both platforms continuously track each other’s offerings to enhance their competitive position.

5. Nike vs. Adidas

Nike and Adidas are major players in the athletic apparel industry. These companies closely follow each other’s strategies to dominate the market. Their competitive analysis includes examining product innovations, brand endorsements, athlete sponsorships and global market presence. 

Competitor analysis tools 

In order to conduct robust competitive analysis like the companies above, you’re going to need the right tools. These include everything from online databases to website monitoring platforms. Here are our top recommendations: 

1. Crunchbase

Crunchbase is a comprehensive business intelligence tool that provides best-in-class data about both public and private companies, including your competitors. You’ll get insights into funding, leadership teams, key metrics and investor relationships, allowing you to understand your competitors’ financial health, investment history and market focus. This information is vital for identifying potential threats in the market, as well as opportunities to differentiate yourself. Learn more about market research on Crunchbase .

Competitive analysis tools: Crunchbase

2. Brandwatch

Brandwatch is a social listening and consumer intelligence platform that helps you monitor your competitors’ social media mentions, customer sentiment and brand reputation. This allows you to gauge public sentiment about your competitors and identify areas where you can strengthen your brand’s image and stand out in the market.

SEMrush is most commonly known as an SEO platform, but it’s also a useful competitive analysis tool. It helps you analyze your competitors’ digital marketing strategies, keywords, backlinks and advertising efforts. Ultimately, this gives you insights into your competitors’ online presence and helps you identify their strengths and weaknesses in the digital space. Note that you can view SEMrush web traffic data directly from Crunchbase .

4. SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is a market intelligence platform that offers insights into website traffic, audience demographics and online performance. It allows you to benchmark your website’s performance against those of your competitors, discover their traffic sources and understand their online audiences.

IPqwery is a competitive analysis tool that offers insights into your competitors’ patent portfolios, technological innovations and intellectual property strategies. This allows you to assess innovation, identify potential partnerships, and evaluate the intellectual property landscape. IPqwery data is available with Crunchbase Data Boost .

Achieve sustainable growth with competitor analysis

Competitive analysis doesn’t only involve gathering information, but it’s also about turning insights into actions that drive your business forward. Competitor analysis is an important part of market research for startups and large companies alike, as it’s fundamental for long-term success. By carefully assessing your rivals and industry trends, you can adapt your strategies and stay ahead of the curve. 

  • market research
  • Originally published October 26, 2023, updated December 19, 2023

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which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

  • Research Guides
  • Public Guides

How to Write a Business Plan

  • Research Your Competition
  • Getting Started
  • Find Industry Information

Who is my Competition?

How do i find where my competitors located, how do i find news about my competitors.

  • Find Information on your Customers
  • Kirstein Business Library This link opens in a new window

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Need extra help? We can put you in touch with a SCORE Mentor or legal help to get answers. 

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

  • SCORE appointments Boston SCORE provides free and Confidential business advice from experienced business professionals at the Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center. Book an appointment here.

which section of the business plan gives information about competitors

Look for companies that have similar business descriptions and industry classifications.  Try to compare their financials, their service and product lines, and the geographic areas they serve, to give you better idea of how your business stacks up.

Resources at the Boston Public Library can also help you learn about your competitor's company history, ownership, intellectual property, and news.

  • Company Research Guide --Library of Congress This guide is designed to give someone searching for company information some ideas and strategies for finding this type of information.

On the Web: There are a number of web resources you can use to help you pinpoint your competition.  You can start with a general search in your favorite search engine. You can also try review sites such as Yelp. 

  • Boston Startups Guide -- Startups Regularly updates list of new tech startups in Boston. Browse startups or search for startups of interest.
  • Crunchbase Crunchbase is the world’s most comprehensive dataset of startup activity and it’s accessible to everyone. Founded in 2007 by Mike Arrington, CrunchBase began as a simple crowd sourced database to track startups covered on TechCrunch.
  • ThomasNet ThomasNet.com is the leading product sourcing and supplier discovery platform for procurement professionals, engineers, plant & facility management personnel, small business owners and other occasional buyers.

With your Library Card:  From your home or office you can use these library resources to generate a list of competitors with their locations. 

  • AtoZdatabases This link opens in a new window AtoZdatabases is a leading job search, reference & mailing list database including 30 million business profiles & 240 million residents. Ideal for sales leads mailing lists, market research, employment opportunities, finding friends and relatives, and more.
  • DemographicsNow: Business and People This link opens in a new window DemographicsNow: Business & People is a comprehensive business and residential reference and research tool. Users can produce comprehensive business and residential lists as well as detailed demographic reports, or even use a unique mapping tool that visualizes trends.
  • Mergent Intellect Mergent Intellect offers users a unique opportunity to access private and public U.S. and international business data, industry news, facts and figures, executive contact information, the ability to access industry profiles, and much more.

On the Web:  Look at your competitors websites and social media to see how they talk about themselves.  Look at how your competitors and customers interact. Also perform a search in your favorite search engine for news concerning you competitors.  

  • Boston Business Journal The Boston Business Journal features local business news about Boston. The Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center has a subscription and their Annual Book of Lists.
  • Bostinno New site focusing on Boston startups, technology and innovation

With Your Library Card:   From your home or office you can access these databases and search for you competition.  

  • Boston Globe (1980-Present) This link opens in a new window Provides full-text articles for staff-written news items, feature stories, columns, and editorials for the Boston Globe . Coverage: 1980-present
  • General Business File ASAP This link opens in a new window Analyze company performance and activity, industry events and trends as well as the latest in management, economics and politics. Access to a combination of broker research reports, trade publications, newspapers, journals and company directory listings with full text and images available. Coverage: 1980-present
  • Gale General OneFile This link opens in a new window Access to more than 3,100 full-text periodicals, 89 newswire services, and five major American newspaper indexes covering a diverse set of topics.
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  • Last Updated: Mar 6, 2024 1:47 PM
  • URL: https://guides.bpl.org/businessplans

How to Research Competition for a Business Plan

Table of Contents

What should I keep in mind when creating my business plan?

Who are your competitors, who are their audiences, what benefits do they offer, product or service information and pricing, gathering your information, analysing your findings, get on track to success from day one.

A business plan is a crucial tool for both new and established companies. Setting out strategies to achieve your goals with detailed background information is key to set your venture up for success. An essential part of establishing your business is understanding who else is out there in your market space. It’s important to write this into your business plan early on to determine how you will set yourself apart from your competitors. 

First, it’s important to keep in mind that market research is separate from competitor research . Competitors will be part of the current market share, but try not to get the two confused. You should have both clearly marked out in your business plan for separate reasons. You can find a separate article on market trends for your business plan here.

Remember to note down your findings and references in an organised way as you go, so that you don’t have to waste time trying to go back and find statistics again. You could use charts to display your company’s attributes against the competition to make the information more digestible.

Start by defining who your competitors are on a local scale. Understand what services are offered in your area so that you can set yourself apart from them. 

Then, find out who your competitors are on a larger, national scale. Which brands dominate your sector? How did they grow to their current size? Try to find out about their origins, so you can pick and choose the elements you would like to apply to your own business. 

Once you have identified who your competitors are, research the following questions:

What is your competitors’ biggest sales demographic? You can use online tools and software to find out this information, and whether their following on social media is predominately this same audience. For bigger brands, it can be a good idea to look at what celebrities or influencers follow them, to give an indication of the kind of audience this business speaks to. 

For example, a well-known ‘mummy blogger’ who follows a beauty brand will likely draw in other women that have children and are interested in similar topics. This beauty brand could engage this audience with relevant messaging or by collaborating with the influencer.

This will all help you figure out who your competitors speak to in their communications and sales messaging. Researching your competitors’ audiences can highlight where you can add value. 

Research why customers are loyal to your competitors. Investigate the benefits attached to their products or services, and advantages they pose over other similar brands. 

This information may be factual, like price or special offers, or more intangible, such as luxury branding. Spend some time understanding this area, because it may help you discover a gap in the market that you can fill to have an edge over the competition. 

Get some hard facts on your competitors’ pricing plan. Is there a product gap they have overlooked that you could capitalise on? Use this information to determine where your pricing should lie. Making your prices too high or too low can cause customers to shy away from your business. It’s crucial to get it right. 

To gain useful insights into your competitors, broaden your search. Suppose you’re a locally-based retail boutique or restaurant. You may have to visit other businesses to glean the information you need. Make notes on the quality of service, the look and feel of the premises, and other factors that you want to differentiate from. 

If you will operate and provide your service digitally, you can likely do most of your research online. Use company websites to see how they talk about themselves. What do they feature in their messaging? Read reviews on Trustpilot or service directories to find out what their customers say. You could even use Glassdoor to find out what employees think of the business.

You could also use SEO tools to understand the digital marketing advantages competitors have, such as the share of search engine results that a competitor occupies. Examine whether they have a robust content marketing strategy by looking at their website and position in the search results, and you can use online tools like SEMRush to determine whether they have a large market share of the search engine results.

Now it’s time to pull together what you found. What matters is not the facts, but the way you interpret them to benefit your business plan and your strategies going forward.

The first part of your competitor research should be about the competitive environment – who the competitors are and the market they occupy. The next sections should be about your competitive advantage. Focus on how you will compete against these brands and the strategies you could apply to establish yourself in the industry.

Now that you are starting your own business, make sure to keep on top of your business finances from the get go. To manage your cash flow and keep organised records of your transactions ahead of your first tax return, it’s important to keep personal and business expenses separate. Countingup is the unique 2-in-1 business current account that automates your bookkeeping so that you can focus more on running your business. Find out more here . 


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