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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.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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.

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.

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How to Write the Competitive Analysis of a Business Plan

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Competition in business plan

If you are writing a business plan, hopefully by this point you’ve conducted thorough market research to identify industry trends and identified the target market for your business. Now it’s time to conduct a competitor analysis. This section is included in virtually every simple business plan template , and the information you include will depend on several factors such as how many competitors there are, what they offer, and how large they are in comparison to your company.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

What is a Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis is a type of market research that identifies your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, the strategies they are using to compete with you, and what makes your business unique. Before writing this section it’s important to have all the information you collected during your market research phase. This may include market data such as revenue figures, cost trends, and the size of the industry.

Why Do You Need the Competitive Analysis?

If you are planning to raise capital, the investor will require a business plan that includes the competitive analysis section. This section will also come in handy while writing a business plan template , if your company is considering increasing prices or adding new products and services. You can use the information you find to determine how well-positioned your business is to perform in the competitive landscape.

3 Steps to Writing a Competitive Analysis

The steps to developing the competitive analysis section of your business plan include:

  • Identify your competition.
  • Select the appropriate competitors to analyze.
  • Determine your competitive advantage.

1. Identify Your Competition

To start, you must align your definition of competition with that of investors. Investors define competition as to any service or product that a customer can use to fulfill the same need(s) as the company fulfills. This includes companies that offer similar products, substitute products, and other customer options (such as performing the service or building the product themselves). Under this broad definition, any business plan that claims there are no competitors greatly undermines the credibility of the management team.

When identifying competitors, companies often find themselves in a difficult position. On one hand, you may want to show that the business is unique (even under the investors’ broad definition) and list few or no competitors. However, this has a negative connotation. If no or few companies are in a market space, it implies that there may not be a large enough base of potential customers to support the company’s products and/or services.

2. Select the Appropriate Competitors to Analyze

Once your competition has been identified, you want to consider selecting the most appropriate competitors to analyze. Investors will expect that not all competitors are “apples-to-apples” (i.e., they do not offer identical products or services) and therefore will understand if you chose only companies that are closest in nature. So, you must detail both direct and, when applicable, indirect competitors.

Direct competitors are those that serve the same potential customers with similar products and services. If you sell your products or services online, your direct competitors would also include companies whose website ranks in the top 5 positions for your same target keyword on Google Search.

For example, if you are a home-based candle-making company , you would consider direct competitors to be other candle makers that offer similar products at similar prices. Online competitors would also include companies who rank for the following keywords: “homemade candles”, “handmade candles”, or “custom candles.”

Indirect competitors are those that serve the same target market with different products and services or a different target market with similar products and services.

In some cases, you can identify indirect competitors by looking at alternative channels of distribution. For example, a small business selling a product online may compete with a big-box retailer that sells similar products at a lower price.

After selecting the appropriate competitors, you must describe them. In doing so, you must also objectively analyze each of their strengths and weaknesses and the key drivers of competitive differentiation in the same market.

For each competitor, perform a SWOT Analysis and include the following information:

  • Competitor’s Name
  • Overview of Competitor (where are they located; how long have they been operating)
  • Competitor’s Product or Service
  • Competitor’s Pricing
  • Estimated Market Share
  • Location(s)
  • Potential Customers (Geographies & Segments)
  • Competitor’s Strengths
  • Competitor’s Weaknesses

By understanding what your competitors offer and how customers perceive them, you can determine your company’s competitive advantage against each competitor.

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3. Determine Your Competitive Advantage

Perhaps most importantly, you must describe your company’s competitive advantages over the other companies in the space, and ideally how the company’s business model creates barriers to entry. “Barriers to entry” are reasons why it would be difficult for new companies to enter into or compete in the same market.

For instance, you may have a patent that provides value to your customers and makes them less likely to switch suppliers, which protects your business from potential competitors. Or, you may have more resources than the competition and thus be able to provide superior customer service.

Below is a list of areas in which you might have a competitive advantage:

  • Size of the Company – Large companies have more resources and can usually offer lower prices than smaller businesses. This is a significant barrier to entry, as starting a small business and competing with a larger company may be difficult.
  • Product or Service Differentiation – If your product or service is unique in some way, this will make it less likely that customers will switch to a competitor.
  • Experience & Expertise – Experience and knowledge are valuable attributes that can help differentiate you from the competition.
  • Location – If you are located in an area where there is high demand for your product or service, this can be a barrier to entry because competitors will not want to open new locations.
  • Patents & Copyrights – Protecting intellectual property can prevent others from entering the same market and competing with your company.
  • Brand Recognition – Customers are loyal to brands they have come to trust, which protects the company from new competitors.
  • Customer Service – Providing excellent customer service can help you retain customers and prevent them from switching suppliers.
  • Lowest Cost Offerings – If you can offer a lower price than your competitors, this makes it more difficult for them to compete with you.
  • Technology – New technology that enables you to provide a better product or service than your competitors can be an advantage.
  • Strategic Partnerships & Alliances – Collaborating with a company that your customers want to work with can help keep them from switching.
  • Human Resources – If you have a highly skilled and talented workforce, it can be difficult for competitors to find and employ the same skills.
  • Operational Systems – Strong operational systems that lead to greater efficiencies can protect your business from the competition.
  • Marketing Strategy – Investing in strong marketing campaigns can make your business difficult to compete with.

For instance, you could say that your [enter any of the bullets from above] is better than your competitors because [insert reason].

The competitive landscape is one of the most important considerations in developing a business plan since it sets the stage by providing information on past and current competitors and their respective strengths and weaknesses. A strong understanding of the competitive landscape is needed before you can develop a strategy for differentiating your company from the competition. Follow the above competitive analysis example and you will be well-prepared to create a winning competitor analysis section of your business plan.

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Other Resources for Writing Your Business Plan

How to Write a Great Business Plan Executive Summary

How to Expertly Write the Company Description in Your Business Plan

The Customer Analysis Section of Your Business Plan

How to Write the Market Analysis Section of a Business Plan

The Management Team Section of Your Business Plan

Financial Assumptions and Your Business Plan

How to Create Financial Projections for Your Business Plan

Everything You Need to Know about the Business Plan Appendix

Business Plan Conclusion: Summary & Recap

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Download a Free Business Plan Template

How to Write a Competitor Analysis for a Business Plan

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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. 

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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.  

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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.  

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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. 

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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.  

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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. 

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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. 

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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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How to Perform a Best-in-Class Competitor Analysis (w/ Template)

Masha Maksimava

Get a full competitive analysis framework that's been real-world tested, and learn the tips and tricks for capturing competitor data and conducting research

You will learn

  • The value of running a competitor analysis and how to get your stakeholders on board
  • Clear and actionable steps for figuring out who your competitors are
  • An easy-to-follow playbook for creating a competitor analysis steeped in research and data

Competitor analysis can be hard .

It’s particularly hard (and confusing and incredibly time-consuming) if you’re relatively new in business . Most of the data is ridiculously difficult to get. Even if you manage to dig something up, you always seem to be left with more questions than answers.

How did they manage to get $10M in funding?

Did that absurdly expensive ad campaign pay off?

Did their CEO leave because things aren’t going well at the company?

What does it all mean?

At least that’s what I felt when I was just getting started with competitive analysis. Whether you’re facing a similar struggle or just aren’t sure where to start, I hope this article will help you navigate through every step of the process.

In this article, I will share the competitive analysis framework my team and I have developed (through weeks of research and dozens of iterations), and give you some tips on where to look for data that isn’t publicly available so you can have a competitive advantage .

But before we start…

What is competitor analysis?

Competitor analysis is the process of evaluating your direct competitors’ companies, products, and marketing strategies.

To make your analysis truly useful, it’s important to:

  • Pick the right competitors to analyze
  • Know which aspects of your competitors’ business are worth analyzing
  • Know where to look for the data
  • Understand how you can use the insights to improve your own business.

Which brings us to why competitor analysis is worth doing in the first place.

Who can benefit from an analysis framework?

This framework will work well for entrepreneurs , business owners , startup founders , product managers , creators , and marketers .

It covers business metrics, a product analysis, and a marketing assessment, with the marketing bit being a little more in-depth. Feel free to skip certain parts if you’re only interested in one aspect, or better yet, delegate some steps to respective teams if you can.

It doesn’t matter much what kind of product you’re selling or how mature your business is. To use this framework, you may already have a fully functional product, an MVP, or even just a product idea. I’ll be using certain analysis tools to facilitate and automate certain bits of the process. Most of them are either freemium or have a free trial available, so all that you’ll need to invest into the analysis is your own time.

Done properly, competitive analysis will give you plenty of quantitative and qualitative data to back your own business decisions and business strategy (and no, I’m not talking about cloning your competitors’ strategies to come up with a second best product, although this can sometimes work ).

Namely, it can help you:

  • Develop (or validate) your Unique Value Proposition
  • Prioritize your product development by focusing on the aspects of competitors’ products customers value the most
  • Improve your product by capitalizing on competitors’ weaknesses customers complain about
  • Find your competitors' strengths to get benchmarks to measure your growth against
  • Uncover market segments that aren’t fully served by competitors
  • Create a new product category by identifying gaps between what your competitors offer and what the customers need

Who even are your competitors?

I can sense you rolling your eyes at me, but hear me out.

If you’re serious about competitive analysis, it’s not enough to just evaluate the two Industry Leaders everyone’s talking about (that kind of analysis will likely get you depressed real quick).

The competitors you pick for the analysis determine the insights you’ll get at the end, and the decisions you’ll make, based in part on those insights. That’s why including different kinds of competitors (big and small, direct and indirect) into the analysis is critical if you want the results to be comprehensive.

Here’s a handy way to think about your competition that’s based off of Myk Pono’s classification :

competitors and alternatives in business plan

It’s best to include at least one competitor from each category into your analysis to make it truly comprehensive.

Whether you can instantly think of over a dozen competitors or can barely recall five, it’s a good idea to turn to Google or a different a search engine ( DuckDuckGo , anyone?) and look up your product category. Examine the products within the top 50 results, along with the ads that are displayed in response to your query — more likely than not, you’ll come across companies you’ve forgotten about, or maybe even learn about a few newcomers.

To give you an example, I’m going to imagine I’m launching a vacation rental website — an alternative to AirBnB. Here’s what my list of competitors may look like broken down by categories:

Now that you have a comprehensive list of your competitors with similar products, it’s time to start the actual analysis.

As you go through the process, feel free to use this Google Sheets template I’ve created.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

In the spreadsheet, I like to divide the factors into collapsable sections (yes, these do get pretty lengthy). I also tend to add comments under each aspect with details or links that provide more info. Depending on the stage you’re at with your business, you can also add in a column for your own product to quickly see how it compares to competitors.

What’s included in a competitor analysis framework

  • Business & Company metrics 1.1. Company overview 1.2. Funding 1.3. Revenue & customers
  • Product 2.1. Product features 2.2. Pricing 2.3. Perks 2.4. Technology
  • Customers & awareness 3.1. Share of Voice 3.2. Sentiment 3.3. Key topics 3.4. Geography 3.5. Social media platforms
  • Marketing 4.1. SEO 4.2. Social media 4.3. Advertising 4.4. Influencers and other partners 4.5. Content Marketing 4.6. Customer acquisition 4.7. Sales 4.8. Customer service 4.9. Unique strengths

I’ll go into depth about each section below, and again feel free to grab this competitor analysis template to follow along .

1. Business & Company metrics

1.1. company overview.

Your analysis should start with digging up the basic info about your competitors: things like the company’s founding year, the names of the CEO and other key people, locations of the company’s offices, how many employees work there, etc.

You’ll usually find bits of this information on competitors’ websites.

The company’s LinkedIn profile is often useful, particularly for employee counts.

And for info on key people, offices, and founding date, CrunchBase is a great resource.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Your competitors’ job openings can also be found on their websites, LinkedIn, and job search sites like Glassdoor and Indeed . Knowing who they are hiring and which teams they are expanding will give you an idea of what steps they’re about to take, both product- and marketing-wise. Are they about to hire their first sales rep or content marketer? Are they looking for a developer with a specific skill set? Combined with what you know about your industry, your competition’s job openings will tell you a lot about where they are going with their business.

You could also take things one step further and see if you can get an understanding of competitors’ corporate culture. The best place to dig through employee reviews is Glassdoor . There, you can find out what employees think about the culture, the team, the pay, the management – and those are often honest opinions because a lot of the feedback is anonymous.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

1.2. Funding

Knowing when, how much, and from whom your competitors received funding can also be important, particularly if you plan on raising capital yourself. It will give you a solid idea on how much funding you can expect to get.

On top of that, venture capitalists (VCs) tend to invest in only one company in a given category so as not to cannibalize their own investments. If an VCs’ name is missing from your competitors’ funding history, they might be a good candidate for you: they missed out on the chance to work with a successful competitor, but now they have the opportunity to invest into a promising startup in the industry (you!).

1.3. Revenue & customers

Your competitors’ revenue and number of customers deserve a separate section in your spreadsheet. For some companies, you’ll be able to find estimates on Owler , but those will often be very rough. A Google search for the name of your competitor combined with the words “revenue,” “customers,” etc. might lead you to interviews or press releases where the companies share this information (because, well, everyone likes to brag).

That said, I bet you won’t be able to find every competitor’s revenue figures this way. To help you dig deeper, I have two hacks to share that go beyond a simple Google search:

Hack #1: Set up alerts for competitors’ interviews and conference presentations.

This one requires some time, but it’s very effective in the long run: you’ll be surprised at just how much your competitors give away at event presentations and in interviews, without being aware of you listening. All you need to do is sign up for Awario (there’s a free 14-day trial available), create an alert for the names of your competitors’ CEOs or other key figures (don’t forget to put the names in double quotes to search for an exact match), and select YouTube as the source for the search. And that’s it! You can now binge-watch those videos right in Awario, without having to leave the tool for a minute, noting your findings along the way.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Hack #2: Use this revenue formula

Jason Lemkin of SaaStr offers a simple formula you can use to calculate a competitor’s revenue estimate, provided you know how many people work there. Take the number of employees the company has listed on its LinkedIn profile and multiply that by $150,000 if well-funded ($200,000 if modestly funded). This should give you an estimate you can work with.

Employee count * $150,000 = Revenue estimate

These details, combined with company info like founding year and employee counts, are important so you can use them as a benchmark against your own growth. How much time did it take each of your competitors to get to the revenue figures they have today? Are you doing as well as a current market leader back when it was an early-stage business?

It’s time to evaluate your competitors’ products or services, the actual things they’re selling. What kind of technology are they using to build it? What is their core selling point? Are there any perks that come with the product: a freemium version, complementary free tools, or services?

2.1. Product features

Let’s get down to the core of your competitors’ business – their product and its key features. A word of caution: this will likely be the longest bit of your spreadsheet.

It’s a good idea to divide the features into groups of related ones to keep things organized.

2.2. Pricing

Assessing competitors’ pricing pages is another crucial step in your analysis (if pricing isn’t available on their website, try reaching out to their sales team).

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Can you uncover a segment of the market that doesn’t seem to be fully served by competitors’ plans?
  • Say, do they have an affordable plan for startups or small businesses? Discounts for students or non-profits?
  • Are there data-heavy options available for agencies and big brands, with Enterprise features like an API or white-label options?

Another thing you can draw from competitors’ pricing strategies is great ideas for A/B testing . Do they offer monthly or annual plans? (If it’s both, what is the default option?) How many packages have they got? Identify the opportunities for your experiments, and prioritize the ones that are common for several competitors.

Dig through your competitors’ websites to see if they offer something complimentary with their product. Do they have a free trial or a freemium version? Are there any “free” tools their customers get access to, or perhaps a perks program in partnership with other tools?

2.4. Technology

Competitors’ technology is an important aspect to assess for tech companies. BuiltWith is a great (and free) tool to figure out the tech stack that a competitor uses. Just type in the URL, and you’ll be able to see what technology the website runs on, along with any third-party scripts and plugins it uses, everything from analytics systems, email marketing services, to A/B testing tools, and CRMs.

A lean alternative to BuiltWith is What Runs , which is a browser extension that analyzes any webpage you’re on.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

On top of that, looking at competitors’ job postings (yes, again) is a great way to see what kind of technology stack they’re using by analyzing the skills they require from candidates. To look for job openings, check your competitors’ websites and job search sites like Glassdoor and Indeed .

3. Customers & awareness

Your next big step in analyzing the competition is looking at what their customers have to say about them. In this section, you’ll look at each brand’s Share of Voice, the sentiment behind their mentions, the key topics customers bring up when they talk about your competitors, and more. To measure these, you’ll need a social listening tool like Awario or Mention .

3.1. Share of Voice

Ideally, you’d want to measure the market share for each of your competitors. But alas, it’s nearly impossible. One substitute metric you could use is Share of Voice – the volume of mentions your competitors get on social media and the web compared to each other.

To measure share of voice , create an alert for each competitor’s brand in Awario, give the tool some time to collect the mentions, and jump to the Alert Comparison report to see how much each competitor is talked about on social and the web.

It’s a good idea to keep these alerts running for the long-term (as opposed to just looking at Share of Voice once). This way, you’ll be able to see spikes in their volume of mentions, track what their customers are saying, and see how their (and your own) Share of Voice evolves over time.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

3.2. Sentiment

The caveat of measuring the level of awareness a competitor has is that awareness isn’t always a good thing. What if there’s been a data scandal one of the competitors is involved in? What if their customer service is horrible, causing an influx of negative mentions?

That’s not the only reason why measuring the sentiment behind the mentions of your competitors is important. It will also help you understand what these companies’ customers love and hate about their product the most.

On top of that, it can also serve as a benchmark when you analyze the sentiment behind the mentions of your own brand and product. Let’s say, 40% of your mentions are positive, 20% are negative, and the rest are neutral. How do you know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing without a benchmark?

3.3. Key topics

What do your customers focus on when they mention your competitors’ products or write customer reviews?

What do they love and hate the most?

Identifying the key topics within your competitors’ mentions will give quick answers to these questions so you don’t have to dig through mentions by hand. You can find these topic clouds in a social listening dashboard. From there, you can click on any topic to explore the mentions in-depth.

Interestingly, these topic clouds can also offer insight into various aspects of your competitors’ business – and they may help you fill the gaps in other sections in your competitor analysis spreadsheet. Here’s one example: those are the key topics for Loom, a screen recording app, from which you can learn a few useful things if you look closely.

Looks like the company a) has just raised some money, b) offers remote jobs, and c) has just announced a new feature they’re building. And you discovered all that at a glance! Of course, you can further explore any topic by clicking on it to see all the mentions that contain the word/phrase.

3.4. Geography

Looking at the geography and demographics of your competitors’ mentions will let you figure out which markets they are focusing on the most (and, with any luck, find an area that isn’t too saturated yet). You’ll find a map of each brand’s mentions in Awario’s dashboard and reports, along with the breakdown of mentions by language.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Try adjusting the date range in the report to see if there’s been any changes in languages/countries recently. This could mean that your competitors are focusing on a new emerging market – an opportunity you might be interested to explore.

3.5. Social media platforms

Just like with geography, this one will give you an idea on where your competitors’ audience hangs out so you can use these findings in your own marketing strategy and social media strategy. On top of that, if you see platforms that appear to be heavily underused (but do look relevant), those may also be worth experimenting with. Just like with the previous factors, you can compare the platforms side-by-side using Awario’s Alert Comparison report.

4. Marketing

From the SEO perspective, there are two most important things about competition you should focus on: the keywords they rank for and the backlinks they’ve got. The former will give you a solid idea on what type of search terms bring them traffic and sales (so you can shape your own keyword strategy), and the latter will show what authoritative websites in your niche link to them (those will likely be relevant to your website too).

For both tasks, you can use SEO PowerSuite (you can get the free version here ). The toolkit includes 4 apps for different aspects of SEO, but we’ll only need 2 of those to analyze competitors.

Rank Tracker will help you with the keywords. Navigate to the tool’s Ranking Keywords module and type in a competitor’s URL. You’ll see a list of terms they rank for, along with the search volume for each term in your country of choice. It’s a good idea to move the most popular terms to Target Keywords right away so you can keep them for your records. Repeat the process for every competitor, noting their estimated search traffic and top keywords they rank for.

For backlink analysis, you’ll need SEO SpyGlass. Launch the tool and create a project for one of your competitors. Next, jump to Domain Comparison . One by one, specify your competitors’ websites and take a look at how they compare.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Next, jump to Link Intersection – a module that shows you the domains that link to more than one of your competitors. You can sort them by InLink Rank to see the most authoritative websites on your list. Those are likely relevant industry websites that will make a great addition to your backlink profile – make sure to save them so you can reach out and see if you can get a backlink from there.

4.2. Social media

The next step is analyzing what, when, and how your competitors are doing on social media. Rival IQ is a useful tool for this task, and they have a 14-day free trial available. Once you’ve signed up for the tool, specify your competitors’ websites, and the platform will automatically pull their social media profiles.

From there, you’ll be able to see which social networks they’re active on, how many followers they have, how much engagement their posts get, etc. Those insights will be handy to benchmark your own strategy against. The tool will also show you the best times and days of the week to post, based on the engagement competitors’ posts get.

On top of that, it may be a good idea to research if your competitors have a community on social media – a Facebook group or a subreddit dedicated to their product. How big is the community? Are the users engaged?

4.3. Advertising

To get an idea of your competitors’ ad strategy, SimilarWeb is a great (and free) starting point. Enter the URL of a competitor’s website and navigate to the Search section – it will show you if your competitors have any search ads running, and, if they do, what their target keywords are.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

The Display section below will show you whether a competitor is running any display ads, and, if they are, which platforms bring them the most traffic.

For Facebook ads, simply open a competitor’s Facebook page and click on Info and ads .

Alternatively, you can use Facebook’s Ad Library to search for your competitors’ ads. Unfortunately, these tools won’t reveal targeting rules your competitors use, but you’ll still get a solid idea of how many ads they’re running, and perhaps get inspiration for your own advertising efforts.

If native ads or other kinds of paid content are a thing in your niche, you can also try searching for “sponsored by [competitor]”, “author” “[competitor]”, etc. in a search engine of your choice (the quotes will make sure you’re looking for an exact match, and all of the words in the query are taken into account). Take note of authoritative platforms you come across and try reaching out to them to inquire about sponsored posts.

4.4. Influencers and other partners

At this point, we’re interested in exploring the partnerships your competitors have that help spread the word about their products. We’ll look at influencers endorsing your competition, publishers they work with, and media platforms they guest blog on, if any.

For the analysis, you’ll need the same social media monitoring alerts for your competitors’ brand you’ve already created in Awario. In your feed, make sure to group the mentions by Authors and sort them by Reach to see the most influential posts first (Reach is calculated based on the number of followers and engagements on social media, and based on the site’s estimated traffic for results from news, blogs, and the web).

This will let you see the most influential posts that mention your competition, including social media posts and blog articles from around the web. Take note of the influencers or publishers they work with – chances are they will be happy to work with you as well.

On top of that, you can also turn to SimilarWeb to see what referral sources are bringing the most visits to your competitors’ websites. Chances are you’ll also find a bunch of blogs and media platforms that generate substantial traffic to their sites.

4.5. Content Marketing

If content is part of your competitors’ strategy, it’s important that you analyze their blog and what they tend to write about. Are the readers engaged? Do the posts get shared around social media a lot? Does the competitor accept guest posts?

BuzzSumo is a great tool to help you out. It will show you the most shared posts on any blog within the past year, so you can get inspiration for your own posts and a better idea of what kind of content resonates with your target audience the best.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

4.6. Customer acquisition

I know, a lot of the points above were actually customer acquisition techniques; but this section is reserved for the ones that weren’t outlined before. Do your competitors have a referral strategy? Do they have an affiliate program? Do they sponsor or exhibit at industry conferences? Do they acquire customers in any other creative way?

If applicable, it’s also important to analyze your competitors’ sales strategy. Do they do product demos? What does contacting a rep look like? Is there a phone number you can call?

The best thing to do is try and book a demo (or a call) with every company yourself, taking careful note of every step. Do they require filling out dozens of fields for you to talk to sales? Will they refuse to hold a demo just because your company is “too small”? Is their time zone convenient? How long does it take them to reply?

All of this will help you spot strengths and weaknesses in your competitors’ sales strategy to help you shape your own.

4.8. Customer service

Does every competitor offer Customer Support for all customers, or does it start with a particular plan? What channels do they provide support on: is it email, live chat, phone, social media, or all of the above? What is their response time? Do they offer Account Management for Enterprise customers?

Analyzing your competitors’ customer service will help you improve your own. The truth is, in large companies, customer care is often almost non-existent; for a new business in the industry, that’s a great area to capitalize on. If that’s true in your case, make sure to highlight the quality of your customer service on your website.

4.9. Unique strengths

Is there anything else that gives a competitor on your list an unfair advantage over everyone else? For example, is their CEO or somebody else on the team an industry influencer? Does the company publish amazing books that are also free? Have the founders launched successful products before? Make note of each competitor’s unique strengths that are hard to emulate.

What’s next?

Once you’re done with every step of competitive analysis, I’m sure you’ve got a clear understanding of the market and more than a handful of ideas on how to improve your own product. While the research is still fresh in your mind, one bonus step I’d highly recommend to everyone performing the analysis is to map your competitors on a Strategy Canvas (from the book Blue Ocean Strategy ).

A Strategy Canvas is a chart that breaks down your competitors by various aspects of their businesses and products (the pricing and other aspects specific to your product category).

The easiest way to plot this is a line chart, with each factor assigned a score depending on how well it is executed.

Here’s an example from the book: a Strategy Canvas for Southwest, one of the first low-cost airlines in the US, compared to the 2 categories that could be considered its competitors: air travel at the time and car travel.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Source: Blue Ocean Strategy

Depending on the kind of competitors you’ve analyzed, you’ll likely see that most of them follow one or two distinct patterns: those will be the major categories you’re competing with (though they may not be as different as cars and airplanes). It’s time to plot your own product on the canvas and see how it compares to the competitors.

Finally, think of ways to make your product stand out. From your research, recall the things your audience needs more and less of. Blue Ocean Strategy offers a nice way to think about the factors on the canvas in terms of applying them to your own product, called the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create Grid.

  • Think of features you could eliminate to lower the cost of your solution : the ones that seem superfluous, are rarely mentioned by customers, and are particularly costly. For Southwest vs. traditional airlines, those were seating class choices and hub connectivity.
  • Think of the factors you can reduce way below the industry standard : the ones that need to be there, but can be leveled down significantly. It’s great if price is going to be one of them! For Southwest, those were the prices, meals, and lounges.
  • Time to think about the aspects you’ll raise well above the industry standard , especially if they won’t cost you a fortune. What do customers wish they’d get more of? For Southwest, that was the friendliness of the service and the speed of travel.
  • Lastly, try and create new features that your closest competitors don’t offer (or borrow them from another product category). With Southwest, it was the frequent departures that traditional airlines didn’t have – but car travel did.

Remember: the idea of a competitive analysis isn’t to steal what they’re doing, it is to understand where your business falls in the market and find new opportunities to make your product stand out.

Eventually, focusing on your customers and gaps between supply and demand will serve you much better than focusing on the competition. And that’s what competitor analysis is for – finding ways to serve the customer better.

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

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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.

Gerrard + Bizway AI Assistant

Start your unique 50-step business roadmap, today⚡

Create your personal 50-step business roadmap in under 1 minute.⚡

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How to Perform a Competitor Analysis (Examples & Templates)

How to Perform a Competitor Analysis (Examples & Templates)

Written by: Masooma Memon

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Thorough competitor analysis is a crucial aspect of any marketing plan .

It helps you understand how challenging it could be to crack a market, what strategies could work, and how you can best position your brand.

It can also tell you what strategies won’t work, what the customer’s expectations are and how much they’re willing to pay.

Without it, you likely won’t survive a day in a new market.

You need to study your competition not only when you’re starting out but also periodically after cementing your feet in the market. This way, you can stay on top of your game, consistently growing your market share.

Not sure where to start?

We’ve got an easy, 6-step competitor analysis template for you in this guide. We’ll also share templates to help you document your findings.

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Table of Contents

What is a competitor analysis, the benefits of competitor analysis for businesses, how to conduct a competitor analysis (step-by-step), 10 competitor analysis templates to use right away, ready to try out this competitor analysis template.

Competitor analysis is the strategic research of your competitors to study their strengths and weaknesses.

By taking the time to analyze your current and potential competitors, you can identify areas for improvement. You want to look out for things like their value proposition, product, marketing and sales tactics.

Besides helping you find gaps in the market, studying your competition helps in the following ways:

  • Identify ways to outperform your competitors.
  • Understand market trends so you can make sure your business is consistently meeting and even exceeding industry standards.
  • Learn what your competitors are doing right. This is important for staying relevant in your market and growing your market share.
  • Find out how your product is different from other similar products. This helps you improve brand positioning and informs your marketing copy.

A competitor analysis seeks to study all available information on your competitors, including their pricing, differentiators, positioning, product portfolio, strengths and weaknesses.

The steps below will help you uncover all this and more.

Step 1: Create a List of Your Competitors

Chances are you can recall who your competitors are in a breath.

But if you’re new, identifying who your direct and indirect competitors are will take some time.

Keep in mind that direct competitors offer products and services similar to yours, positioning them as a substitute for your business. They also mostly target the same audience.

On the flip side, indirect competitors are businesses that don’t necessarily offer the same product or service. However, their offering can solve the same customer problem that your business solves.

An easy, cost-effective way to identify competitors is by typing in your product type into the Google search bar.

Let’s suppose you have a project management software . A quick Google search on this will turn up names of companies offering the same type of software.

Google Search Project management software

For creating a comprehensive list of competitors, make sure you google synonyms too. This could be a “project management tool” for the example above.

Another useful tactic is to conduct the same research on social media .

Type in what your business does and you’ll see similar business names pop up.

Twitter Search Project management software

You can also surf hashtags to learn how other companies are using them.

Lastly, if you’re conducting market research interviews , pay attention to the brand names that target buyers mention in their interviews.

Step 2: Study Competitors’ Product Offerings and Market Share

Once you know who your competitors are, start studying them one by one.

Go through their product portfolio. Look at the products they offer, how they position and price them. Record your findings in a worksheet so you can track and analyze the data you’re gathering. Visme allows you to do this quickly and easily.

You can also grab a template from Visme’s template gallery and create a product and pricing sketch for each competitor. This will make it easy for you to visualize individual competitors.

To determine competitors’ market share, use Statista or a similar resource to get your hands on the numbers.

Track and visualize your findings in this template.

A Comparative Report Area Chart Square

Step 3: Perform a SWOT Analysis

A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis helps you study what competitors are doing to win customers. You can also use it to identify gaps in your market .

For example, let's say a competitor’s customer support team takes pretty long to get back to customers. You can use the information to provide faster customer support and a better experience for customers.

As you hunt for competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, study the following areas:

  • Sales strategy
  • Brand positioning
  • Marketing plan
  • Discounts strategy
  • Website experience
  • Customer support and experience

Running an ecommerce business? Study competitors’ shipping and product return strategies as well.

An effective way to jump-start studying competitors’ strengths, weaknesses and more is through social listening. The goal? To identify what customers are saying about brands on social media channels they use, including chat forums and groups they are a part of.

A similar approach is to study customer reviews. This will help you understand what your competitors’ customers are saying about them.

Are they satisfied with the product quality? Or are they put off by their onboarding process? Do their support requests take long to get answered?

As you go about researching, record your findings in a SWOT analysis template like this one:

Competitor Analysis Worksheet

If you’re a Visme user, you have the benefit of coordinating your SWOT research efforts with your team.

If you and your business partner are working together on the research work, you can both access and edit the worksheet in Visme at the same time.

To do this, use the Share option from the top right side of your project dashboard in Visme. Select "Share Privately" and add your partner to the project.

From there, you two can collaborate on design , leaving comments for each other.

Step 4: Dig Deeper Into Competitors’ Pricing Strategy

We’ve already mentioned that you need to make notes on how your competitors price their products. But studying their pricing strategy goes deeper.

First, review what discounts competitors offer. Then look at how often they offer discounts.

Studying your competitors’ promo strategies will help you understand how they’re attracting customers and growing sales. It will also give you a good idea of how much the target market is willing to pay and what their expectations are in terms of discounts.

In addition to the manual research to uncover individual competitor pricing, use the same research tools mentioned above — social listening and customer reviews. They'll help identify what customers are saying. Pay attention to how customers respond to the discounts and promotions that competitors run.

Some businesses tend to offer discounts shortly after they launch new products. This can be a turn-off for shoppers who like to shop for the latest collections to stand out from their peers.

Similarly, other businesses extend product deals now and then despite telling customers it’s their last chance to buy.

See if and how that annoys customers and if there’s an opportunity for you to offer something more relevant and unique to the target market.

Step 5: Analyze Competitors’ Marketing Strategy

It’s important to study how competitors are raising brand awareness and moving leads down their marketing funnel .

Begin by identifying where your leading competitors are funneling their resources. Is it PPC they’re investing in? Or are they taking the community-building approach to attract, engage and nurture customers?

Chances are your competitors are big on educating customers, so they’re investing in content marketing .

Also, look at which channels competitors are focusing on. Is it Twitter or Reddit? Or do they have a strong presence on Instagram ?

The answer to this will help you understand where your target audience is present and which marketing channels you should focus on.

Take Clearscope , an SEO content optimization tool, for example. They take an educational approach to their marketing by creating lots of webinar content.

Clearscope GIF

Ahrefs , another SEO tool, on the other hand, is also big on the educational approach. But they create blog content, not webinars.

Ahrefs GIF

Step 6: Document Your Research

In this last step, compile all your research in written format.

Create an action plan that includes a tactical list of steps to take. This way, you can discuss and prioritize steps to take with your team. Aim to be concise as you create this competitor analysis document.

If you create a wordy report, nobody will read it. But if you create a document that summarizes your findings and visualizes data in the form of charts and graphs, more people will read and appreciate your hard work.

Want some good news? Visme makes it uber-simple to create easy-to-read graphs and charts . It can help you create an easily shareable and visually engaging analysis document.

Design graphs using templates like the one below:

Site Traffic Line Graph

Alternatively, create new charts in your presentation or report .

All you have to do is to head to Charts & Graphs on the left side of your design dashboard and choose the type of chart you want to create.

From there, Visme gives you a chart to enter data so it can create a custom graph for your project. You can resize the graph you create, tweak its color, animate it and add other interacgive effects.

When you are done designing your document you can easily share it with the rest of your team . Head to the Share button at the top right corner of your design dashboard.

Now select Share Privately from the left side and give permission to team members. Choose whether they can view your work, comment on it, or edit it.

If you prefer to get a link for the work you’ve created, simply grab it from the bottom of the page and share it with your team.

By going into Advanced Settings on the left side, followed by Privacy . You can also allow your team to download the competitor analysis report as a PDF.

And, finally, for the templates that we promised:

1. Retail Store Competitor Analysis Infographic Template

Use this infographic template to record your competitors’ pricing, unique selling proposition (USP), revenue and more.

Since the information is arranged in a table format, you can easily study how each competitor stands against another and how they compare to business.

Retail Store Competitor Analysis Infographic

2. Competitor Analysis Interactive Presentation Template

If you’re looking to pitch some growth ideas to your executive team, this interactive competitor analysis template is for you.

It’s neatly designed so that all information is easy to read.

There are a handful of slides in the template that use tables to compare competitors. You can also always add more slides or remove some to suit your needs.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

3. Logistics Firm Competitor Analysis Infographic Template

This is the perfect template for studying and comparing two competitors.

If you prefer, you can also use the beautifully designed template to analyze your business against your leading competitor.

And if need be, you can add another row for comparing another competitor.

Logistics Firm Competitor Analysis Infographic

4. Edtech Company Competitor Analysis Infographic Template

This is another competitor analysis template to pitch two competitors against one another.

What makes it different from the template above is that it arranges all the comparative pointers at the center. This way, you won’t need to keep looking to the left side to see which pointer you’re studying.

Edtech Company Competitor Analysis Infographic

5. Sales Consultant Competitor Analysis Worksheet Template

This is a great template to record findings on each competitor.

By using it, you can easily get a snapshot of each of your competitor’s free and paid products, USP, features, target market and the marketing channels they use.

Sales Consultant Competitor Analysis Worksheet

6. Media and Marketing Agency Competitor Analysis Worksheet Template

This template is perfect for recording not just your competitors’ products, features and pricing but also their SWOT analysis.

Consequently, this competitor analysis template can serve as your readable database with all your research findings.

Media and Marketing Agency Competitor Analysis Worksheet

7. Nonprofit SWOT Analysis Infographic Template

If you’re looking to record your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, then this template is perfect.

And if you’re conducting several competitors’ SWOT analyses, make sure you use this template for each one of them.

Nonprofit SWOT Analysis Infographic

8. TrackFast Technologies Sales Battlecard Template

This competitor analysis template is useful for comparing your business with your leading competition.

As well as a comparative table, it also features space to record other essential details such as company overview, key differentiators, customer pain points and benefits.

TrackFast Technologies Sales Battlecard

9. Design Agency Competitor Analysis Worksheet Template

This one is a simple, minimally-designed competitor analysis template for comparing various competitors.

If you need to add another column, you can easily do so by editing the template in Visme.

Design Agency Competitor Analysis Worksheet

10. Design Tool Competitor Analysis Infographic Template

Lastly, we’ve got this competitor analysis template.

Its best feature is that the template divides each column into sub-categories, which makes it easy to analyze each aspect.

For example, within the product column, you can easily learn about a competitor’s product features, pricing and USP.

Design Tool Competitor Analysis Infographic

So you see, competitor analysis is critical for tapping into and growing in a market.

But remember, analyzing your competitors and their moves is only part of the task. The other part involves documenting your findings in an easy-to-read and understandable way. This is key to making sure your team implements the findings from the research.

Want to start recording your findings? Sign up for Visme’s document creator for free today and start documenting actionable takeaways.

Easily put together marketing documents using Visme

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competitors and alternatives in business plan

About the Author

Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer by day and a novel nerd by night. She crafts research-backed, actionable blog posts for SaaS and marketing brands who aim to employ quality content to educate and engage with their audience.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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Introduction

Competitor analysis is an essential marketing strategy which allows businesses to gain insight into both the strengths and weaknesses of competitors. By understanding the competition, businesses can strategically determine their own positioning in the market and contrast their own offering with that of their competitors. Conducting a proper competitor analysis enables businesses to create a more effective business plan and ultimately, a more successful business.

Definition of Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is the process of thoroughly examining other businesses competing in the industry to gain insights into their strengths and weaknesses. This process helps businesses understand their place in the market, in terms of the competition, and utilise this information to devise the best strategies to outperform their competitors. To gain the most accurate results, you should look at both direct and indirect competitors.

Reasons for Including Competitor Analysis in Your Business Plan

  • Understand Your Market Position: A comprehensive competitor analysis allows you to understand your place and position in the current market.
  • Make Strategic Decisions: By understanding the competition, a business can determine the strategies which will make their business the most successful.
  • Gain Insight into Your Competitors: A competitor analysis will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the decision-making frameworks of your competitors and their goals.
  • Devising an Effective Business Plan: Competitor analysis can be used to gather helpful information which can be implemented in the development of your business plan. This can include targeting different markets, devising the right pricing, or creating effective marketing campaigns

Identifying Your Competitors

When it comes to determining who you are up against in your industry, you must identify your competitors. Some businesses may have both direct and indirect competitors – it’s important to be aware of both of these types to understand the field you will be playing in the marketplace.

Direct vs. Indirect Competitors

Direct competitors are businesses that offer the same products and services as you in the same geographic area and to the same demographic. These are the firms you will want to keep the closest eye on during your competitor analysis as they can quickly replicate your unique offerings and undercut you on price if you give them the chance.

Indirect competitors are businesses that offer products and services that are similar, but are likely outside their core offering. For example, if you run a software company, your direct competitors might be other software business entities in the same geographic area. Indirect competitors might include an accounting firm or a marketing agency that offer software as a secondary service.

Market Research Tools

To identify all potential competitors, there are multiple market research tools available to help small and medium-sized businesses. Depending on the type of product/service you offer, these could include SEMrush or Ahrefs for SEO and keyword tracking, Blazemeter or Google Optimize for website testing and optimization, SurveyMonkey for surveys, and more.

You should also use a combination of traditional market research such as interviews and surveys to gauge customer opinion while also exploring what your competitors are doing. By surveying customers, you can get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the products and services that your competitors are offering.

Assessing Your Competitors' Strengths and Weaknesses

Once you have identified both direct and indirect competitors, it’s important to do a detailed analysis of their strengths and weaknesses so you can be sure to differentiate your offerings. Ask yourself the following questions when assessing competitors:

  • What products/services do they offer?
  • What is their market share?
  • What differentiating features do they offer?
  • Are there any unique selling points?
  • What is the pricing of their products/services?
  • What channels do they use for marketing and distribution?
  • What is their reputation with customers?
  • What areas of improvement do they need to focus on?

By asking these questions and doing a thorough competitor analysis, you can ensure your business plan is informed and comprehensive. You can confidently enter the marketplace with the knowledge that you understand both the competitive landscape of the industry and the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

Strategic Positioning

One of the key steps in developing a business plan is analyzing your competitors. Strategic positioning involves understanding where your product or service fits in the market and how you can differentiate yourself.

Evaluate Your Competitors' Strategies

In order to effectively analyze your competition and position yourself in the market, you need to understand their strategies. Many organizations create a Competitive Analysis to list details about their competitors, such as their product features, pricing, promotional activities, and customer service.

Get to know what each competitor is doing. Visit their websites, analyze their content, read their press releases, and follow their social media accounts. Similarly, it is important to understand the value proposition and the USP of each competitor. Pay particular attention to their target audience and the advantages that are offered.

Understand Your Market Position

Once you have a good understanding of your competition, you will be able to identify your position in the market. Research the competitors’ weaknesses and strengths and tap into opportunities that haven’t been exploited yet. Identify any gaps in the market and determine how you can offer a better solution.

Analyzing your competitors is an essential part of any business plan. Understanding their strategies and positioning yourself correctly in the market can give you an edge over the competition. By taking the time to research your competitors, you can create an effective plan to differentiate yourself and gain a competitive advantage.

Value Proposition

Creating a strong value proposition is a necessary part of understanding and competing with other businesses in your industry. Offering an appealing, niche product or service that no one else can provide is the key to staying ahead of the competition.

Gather Data on Their Customers

Analyzing your competitors is a great way to get insights into potential customer segments. Gather data on the customers of your competitors to understand the characteristics of their best customers. Who are their ideal clients? What type of customers do they attract? What type of content are their customers responding to? These will be incredibly valuable insights for you.

Identify Unique Strengths and Differentiating Characteristics

Next, it’s important to identify the unique strengths and differentiating characteristics that make your competitors unique. What works for them? What are their competitive advantages? How are they out-performing their peers?

Once you’ve identified their strengths, use that knowledge to craft an effective value proposition that sets you apart from your competitors. What will make your product or service stand out and make customers choose you over your competition.

In the end, it all boils down to providing a product or service that people need and want, and can’t get anywhere else. That’s the key to staying ahead of the competition and creating a winning business plan.

Distribution Channels

Creating a successful business plan involves looking at how your competitors are distributing their product or service. Distribution channels are the pathways a company uses to get the product or service to their end-user. It is important to understand your competitors’ distribution channels and policies so you can determine how to improve upon them and how to differentiate yourself competitively.

Assess Competitors’ Channel Options

When examining your competitors’ distribution channels, it is important to understand the type of channel they are using. For example, are they using a direct continuum which involves selling their product directly to the consumer via their own website, or do they utilize a 3rd party platform? It is also important to assess the geographic reach of their distribution channels and where their warehouses are located. Additionally, investigate any loyalty program that might be associated with the product or service.

Understand Your Own Channel Strategies

When creating your own distribution channels, you need to consider who your target audience is and what channels would be best for reaching them. Is it more effective to focus on brick-and-mortar retail, online retail, or a combination of both? What is the best pricing and delivery strategy? In addition, you will want to consider any potential partnerships you could establish with other businesses and which companies would be good fits. Once you’ve determined the type of channels you should use, you will want to evaluate the costs associated with setting up the channel, such as start-up costs, ongoing costs, tariffs, and more.

Analyzing your competitors in terms of their distribution channels can help you develop a better business plan by understanding how to differentiate yourself and by learning lessons from their mistakes. Understanding your own channel strategies is equally important and requires thorough examination into what type of channel would be most effective for reaching your target customer, analyzing associated costs, and creating any necessary partnerships.

Pricing Strategies

Pricing strategies are one of the most important factors for a successful business. The pricing of your products or services should be accurately assessed and effectively communicated in your business plan. This requires an understanding of the current market, an analysis of your competitors, and an evaluation of your own strategies.

Gather Pricing Information for Your Competitors

The first step in analyzing your competitors’ pricing is to research their pricing strategies. This means gathering information on their products or services, pricing levels, and promotion techniques. By understanding their pricing models, you can better assess the overall environment and make more informed decisions on how to price your own products or services.

Effective research includes looking at the pricing levels of both online and brick-and-mortar stores. Review price comparisons from sites like KAYAK, Amazon, and the like. In addition, review prices from competitors in your local area. Look for special deals and discounts that may be offered by your competitors, or look for creative ways that they are using their prices to stand out from the competition.

Analyze Your Own Pricing Strategies

The next step is to analyze your own pricing strategies. This means assessing what is working and what needs improvement. Evaluate your current pricing models, identify gaps, and determine how you can best capitalize on them. Consider factors like quality of product, value for money, services, customer service, and more.

In addition, analyze pricing trends in your market. Are prices increasing or decreasing? Is the demand seasonal?

Lastly, look for potential areas in which you can increase profit margins by exploring new price points. Consider things like discounts, loyalty programs, promotions, and other incentives. All of these factors can help you create a pricing strategy that is competitive and profitable.

Analyzing competitors is essential to any business. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses and understanding what they are doing, entrepreneurs can determine the best ways to stand out from their competition and achieve success. Utilizing competitor analysis in the development of your business plan can help create clear strategies to differentiate your business and reach your targeted goals.

Understanding Your Competitors

Understanding your competitors requires research and evaluation. You must examine each company in your industry, understand their products and services, pricing models, target markets, industry trends, and marketing initiatives. You should also track their success, reactions to new products, and changes in the market. Staying aware of your competitors’ decisions and strategies will help you develop strategies to outmaneuver them and reach your target goals.

Implementing Competitor Analysis in Your Business Plan

The information you collect should be utilized to craft a business plan tailored to your competitive landscape. Your business plan should include objectives, strategies, and analysis of your competitors as well as descriptions of each of their business practices. Finally, you should incorporate weaknesses and threats your business poses to your competitors. Employing a competitive analysis throughout your business plan will increase the chance of your business being successful by accurately predicting the aggressive behavior of your competitors and knowing how to respond appropriately.

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How to Craft Competitor Analysis in Business Plan?

Competitor analysis in a business plan sounds as thrilling as watching paint dry.

Imagine being a detective and digging through the secrets of the market.

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan

In this case, competitor analysis in business plans can be your magnifying glass. It’s like having a tool that lets you see what your rivals are up to.

Have you ever felt like you’re throwing darts blindfolded when making business moves?

That’s where competitor analysis in business plans comes in. It resembles turning on the lights in a dull room.

You can easily see where to aim. Think of competitor analysis as your business’s Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).

Do you intend to navigate the bustling streets of your target market?

This is how.

Charts and graphs aren’t just for show. They can tell stories about numbers, trends, and what your competitors are plotting.

Are you using surveys to gather data?

If so, how do you spin that data into actionable insights?

Here’s a secret.

It’s not just about the data.

Yes, you read that right. It’s how you present your data to your target audience.

In this blog, you’ll learn the following:

What is Competitor Analysis?

  • Importance of a Business Plan
  • Conduct a Competitor Analysis
  • Best Practice for Competitor Analysis in Business Plan

How to Visualize Competitor Analysis?

Think of a business plan as a treasure map. It’s got all the routes to your destination.

Here’s the kicker.

You’re not the only treasure hunter in this story.

This is where competitor analysis in business plans comes in. With it, you can peek at your rivals’ moves to increase market share.

Why is competitor analysis in business plans so crucial?

You don’t want to set sail only to find your business rivals have plundered the treasure. That’s why embedding a competitor analysis in business plans is like learning the other pirates’ plans.

It’s not just about knowing they have a faster ship or a bigger crew. It’s about outsmarting them with minimal resources.

You’ve got to know who’s swimming with you when you’re knee-deep in the business world’s wild waters.

Are they sharks, whales, or just jellyfish masquerading as threats?

Use that competitor analysis in business plans to spot the strengths you can mimic and the weaknesses you can exploit.

Remember, it’s not just a one-and-done deal.

Your competitors evolve, and so should your business plan.

Why is Competitor Analysis Important For a Business Plan?

Here’s a list of why competitor analysis is essential for a business plan.

Market Understanding

Imagine you’re a pirate looking for buried treasure. Competitor analysis in a business plan is your treasure map.

It can help you get the lay of the land and spot your rivals and their moves.

Identifying Opportunities and Threats

Identifying opportunities and threats is like a game of chess. You have to know what moves your opponent is planning.

This way, you can swoop in and take the lead or dodge a bullet before it’s fired.

Strategic Planning

Have you ever tried to hit a bullseye with your eyes closed?

It’s not easy, right?

That’s why you need this analysis to hit your business targets.

Market Positioning

Market positioning is like the classic tale of finding out where you stand in the pack.

Are you the cool kid or the underdog?

Knowing your position helps you figure out how to climb the market ladder.

Pricing and Product Strategy

Imagine setting up a lemonade stand.

You have to peek at your competitors down the street.

Are they charging more?

Are their lemons fancier?

This insight helps you set the right price and stand out.

How to Conduct a Competitor Analysis?

Here’s a no-nonsense, step-by-step guide on how to conduct a competitor analysis in business plans.

Identify Your Competitors

Start by listing who you’re up against.

You probably have the usual suspects (direct competitors) and the indirect competitors— the ones who aren’t selling the same thing but are still fishing in your pond.

Gather Information

Snoop around for information on their offerings, size, turf, backstory, etc.

Hit up the web and sift through sales reports for insights.

Analyze Competitor Offerings

Get under the hood of their brand offerings.

What’s their pricing, quality, etc?

Spot their weaknesses and where they shine.

Assess Market Positioning

Figure out your competitors’ game.

Are they giving mouth-watery deals or waving the flag of innovation?

Find their strong muscles and their soft spots.

Marketing and Branding

Peek at their marketing and branding game plan.

How do they create awareness of their new offerings?

Look at their ads, social buzz, and content strategy. Get the gist of their brand’s story and if it’s hitting home.

What are the Best Practices for Competitor Analysis in Business Plans?

Let’s talk about the best practices in competitor analysis in business plans.

You don’t want to miss this.

Start Early

Don’t wait until the eleventh hour.

Kick off your competitor analysis in business plans at the get-go of your strategy.

Identify Key Competitors

Keep your eyes on the prize. Zone in on the business competitors that matter instead of chasing every shadow.

Use Multiple Data Sources

Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Mix it up with different sources to get the complete picture.

Segment Competitors

Sort your business competitors into buckets, that is, the direct threats, the sneaky players, and the new kids on the block.

SWOT Analysis

Break down your competitor’s game into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Focus on Market Positioning

Where do your business competitors stand in the industry? Figure out their spot and how they’re spinning their brand story.

Monitor Online Presence

Keep tabs on your competitors’ digital footprint.

It’s like reading their diary. You can learn a lot from what they’re putting out there.

When diving into competitor analysis in a business plan, Excel might be the first tool you use for in-depth analysis.

Let’s talk about where Excel starts to show its limitations.

Excel can be a trusty tool for organizing your data.

But when it comes to storytelling, it’s a bit like trying to paint with a limited palette.

Excel spreadsheet will let you plot the fundamentals, but its charts are pretty basic with limited customization options. Plus, its library of graphs won’t always have what you need, especially when conducting competitor analysis in business plans.

Enter ChartExpo, an Excel add-in for data visualization .

ChartExpo fills in the gaps with over 50 chart templates. This makes it a breeze to turn your data into compelling stories.

ChartExpo’s customization options are unlimited.

Do you want to tweak every color, angle, and label?

ChartExpo add-in for Excel gives you the freedom to create your data story just as you envision it.

It offers a suite of multipurpose charts that Excel doesn’t, which can turn feedback into insights you can act on.

After all, what’s the point of data if you can’t use it to make profit-driven decisions?

Here’s the scoop on ChartExpo:

  • It’s loaded with the best charts for all kinds of analyses, including competitor analysis in business plans.
  • You can create stunning visualizations that make your data story persuasive.
  • It’s a treasure trove for spotting the golden opportunities and the red flags in your competitor analysis data.
  • You get to try it for a 7-day free trial, no commitment is required.

Once you’ve tasted what ChartExpo can do, you’ll find the $10 price tag for the full version is a day-light robbery.

How to Install ChartExpo in Excel?

In this section, we’ll use ChartExpo, and sample data (below) to demonstrate how you can use Radar Chart to visualize your data for insights.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Before we jump into this, we’ll tell you the best way to introduce ChartExpo in Excel.

Let’s dive in:

Product Name Your Company Competitor A Competitor B Competitor C
Mobile 15,000 10,000 12,000 15,000
Tablets 10,000 20,000 15,000 20,000
Laptops 20,000 12,000 18,000 10,000
Mouse 12,000 15,000 10,000 12,000
Keyboards 18,000 18,000 20,000 18,000

To get started with ChartExpo in Excel , follow the steps below:

  • Open your Microsoft Excel.
  • Open the worksheet and click the Insert button to access the  My Apps option.

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan 1

  • Click the Insert button to initiate the ChartExpo engine.

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan 2

  • Click the Search box and type “Radar Chart.”

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan 3

  • Highlight your data and click the Create Chart From Selection button, as shown below.

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan 4

  • To add the chart header, click the Edit Chart button.

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan 5

  • Add your header in the box titled Line 1.
  • Toggle the small button below Line 2 to the right side to activate the header.

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan 6

  • Complete the process by clicking the Apply All button.
  • Click the Save Changes button to preserve all the changes.
  • Check out the final chart.

Competitor Analysis in Business Plan 7

  • The visual data indicates that our mobile sales are on par with Competitor C. On the other hand, competitor A trails with lower sales figures.
  • When it comes to tablet sales, our company lags behind the competition.
  • Our company is leading the pack with the highest laptop sales when compared to competitors.
  • Mouse sales are neck and neck with Competitor C, but it’s Competitor A who’s out in front.
  • Finally, the sales of keyboards are evenly matched between our company, Competitor A, and Competitor C. Interestingly, Competitor B has taken the lead with the highest keyboard sales.

How do you write a competitor analysis for a business plan?

To create a competitor analysis for a business plan, identify your key rivals, gather data on their operations, analyze their strengths and weaknesses, assess their market positioning, and determine their strategies.

Lastly, summarize insights to inform your competitive edge and strategic decisions.

What are three 3 possible benefits of a competitor analysis?

Three advantages of competitor analysis are enhanced strategic awareness, identification of market gaps for innovation, and improved understanding of industry benchmarks.

These advantages collectively facilitate informed decision-making, strategic positioning, and the ability to anticipate and counteract competitors’ strategies effectively.

Embedding a solid competitor analysis in business plans is like having a secret roadmap.

In other words, it’s the difference between shooting in the dark and hitting the bullseye.

If Excel has been your go-to but is starting to feel like trying to text with a flip phone, ChartExpo is your upgrade.

ChartExpo turns your data into compelling data stories with over 50 chart types, including the Radar Chart.

You don’t need coding skills to use ChartExpo.

Take it for a spin with a free 7-day trial.

With ChartExpo, you’re not just playing the game; you’re changing it.

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January 21, 2024

Can't find what you're looking for?

Competitor Analysis 101: A Roadmap to Business Dominance With Competitive Analysis

Master Competitor Analysis: Strategies to Outperform Rivals - Unlock Opportunities for Business Growth! Explore our guide for strategic insights. Elevate your business strategy with effective competitor analysis. Start optimizing your success now.

What's Inside?

What is a Competitor Analysis?

Competitor analysis is a strategic business practice that involves systematically examining and evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and performance of other businesses or organizations operating within the same industry or market

The primary goal is to gain comprehensive insights into the competitive landscape, understand how rivals operate, and identify opportunities or threats that can impact your own business strategy.

By analysing competitors, businesses can make informed decisions, refine their own strategies, and ultimately enhance their competitive advantage in the marketplace .

Why Competitive Analysis Is Important

By analysing competitors with competitive analysis on a regular basis, you can:

  • Know your industry and market.
  • Compare your performance to that of your opponents.
  • Seek to fill any holes in your approach that your rivals may have
  • Create plans and techniques that highlight your special selling point.
  • Keep up with market changes to get a competitive advantage over your competitors.

Continue reading to learn how to get started.

Reasons to Use Competitor Analysis

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Using competitor analysis is crucial for several reasons that can significantly impact the success and sustainability of a business:

1) Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses:

By analysing competitors, businesses can identify both their own strengths and weaknesses and those of their rivals.

Understanding where competitors excel and where they struggle provides valuable insights for strategic planning .

2) Opportunity and Threat Assessment:

Competitor analysis helps businesses identify opportunities in the market that their competitors may have overlooked.

It also enables businesses to recognize potential threats, allowing for proactive measures to mitigate risks.

3) Market Positioning: Market Competitor Analysis and Market Competitiveness Analysis

Understanding how competitors position themselves in the market allows businesses to differentiate their own offerings effectively.

It helps in creating a unique value proposition that can attract and retain customers.

4) Strategic Decision Making:

Competitor analysis informs strategic decision-making by providing data-driven insights.

Businesses and companies can adjust their strategies based on the observed successes and failures of competitors.

5) Customer Understanding:

Studying competitors aids in understanding customer preferences and expectations.

This knowledge is valuable for tailoring products, services, and marketing approaches to better meet customer needs.

6) Innovation and Adaptation:

Monitoring competitors' innovations and adaptations to market trends can inspire creative thinking within a business.

It helps organizations stay relevant and responsive to changes in the industry.

7) Benchmarking Performance:

Comparing key performance indicators with competitors allows businesses to benchmark their performance.

This benchmarking process helps set realistic goals and standards for improvement.

8) Risk Mitigation:

Identifying potential risks and challenges that competitors face enables businesses to proactively plan for similar situations.

This risk mitigation strategy enhances a company's resilience in a dynamic business environment.

9) Resource Allocation:

Competitor analysis aids in optimizing resource allocation by focusing on areas that offer the most significant impact.

Businesses can allocate budgets, manpower, and time more efficiently based on observed industry dynamics.

10) Continuous Improvement:

Regular competitor analysis promotes a culture of continuous improvement within a business.

It encourages adaptability and a commitment to staying ahead of industry changes and evolving customer demands.

What To Include In A Competitor Analysis

competitors and alternatives in business plan

A competitor analysis is a crucial component of strategic planning for businesses.

It helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, identify opportunities and threats in the market, and make informed decisions to improve your own business performance.

Here are key elements to include in a comprehensive competitor analysis:

1) Identification of Competitors competitor research

  • List and categorize direct and indirect competitors.
  • Consider both current and potential future competitors.

2) Market Share and Size Assessing Competitors sales with competition research

  • Determine the market share of each competitor.
  • Evaluate the overall size and growth of the market metrics.

3) Products/Services Analysis

  • Analyse the range of products or services offered by each competitor.
  • Assess the quality levels , features, and pricing of their offerings.

4) Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor.
  • Consider factors such as brand reputation, distribution channels, technology, and financial stability.

5) Target Audience

  • Define the target audience for each competitor.
  • Understand how competitors position themselves in the market.

6) Pricing Strategy

  • Analyse the pricing strategies of competitors.
  • Compare your pricing against theirs.

7) Marketing and Advertising

  • Review competitors' marketing and advertising strategies. Assess the effectiveness of their campaigns in relation to competitor products

8) Distribution Channels

  • Examine the distribution channels used by competitors.
  • Evaluate the efficiency of their supply chain.

9) Online Presence

  • Analyse competitors' online presence, including websites, social media, and online reviews and content.
  • Evaluate their digital marketing strategies.

10) Customer Reviews and Feedback

  • Research customer reviews and feedback on competitors' products or services.
  • Identify common complaints and areas for improvement.

11) Regulatory Environment:

  • Consider any regulatory factors affecting competitors.
  • Assess how well they comply with industry regulations.

12) Technological Capabilities

  • Evaluate the technological tools capabilities and innovations of competitors.
  • Assess their investment in research and development.

13) Financial Performance

  • Review the financial statements of competitors.
  • Assess revenue, profit margins, and overall financial health.

14) SWOT Analysis:

  • Summarize the key findings in a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for each competitor case.

15) Future Plans and Trends:

  • Research any publicly available information on competitors future plans and strategies.
  • Stay informed about industry trends that may impact competitors.

16) Benchmarking:

  • Benchmark your own performance against key competitors.
  • Identify areas where you can improve or differentiate.

17) Risk Analysis:

  • Assess risks associated with each competitor.
  • Consider potential disruptions or challenges they may face.

Competitor Analysis

Aspect Description
Identification of Competitors List and categorize direct and indirect competitors.
Market Share and Size Determine the market share of each competitor. Evaluate the overall size and growth of the market.
Products/Services Analysis Analyze the range, quality, features, and pricing of competitors' products or services.

How to Create a Competitor Analysis: Step-by-Step Guide

1) Define Your Objectives:

Begin by clearly outlining the goals and objectives of your competitor analysis. Understanding what you aim to achieve will guide the entire process.

Whether it's identifying market opportunities, mitigating risks, or refining your market positioning, having well-defined objectives is crucial.

2) Identify Your Competitors:

Compile a comprehensive list of both direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors operate in the same market and offer similar products or services, while indirect competitors may address the same needs but with different solutions.

Consider both current and potential future competitors for a thorough assessment.

3) Gather Information of Questions:

Collecting relevant data is a cornerstone of effective competitor analysis. Utilize various sources such as industry reports, financial statements, press releases, social media, and customer reviews.

The goal is to create a comprehensive overview of each competitor's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

4) SWOT Analysis:

Conduct a SWOT analysis for each competitor. This involves identifying their internal Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as external Opportunities and Threats.

Engage cross-functional teams to gather diverse perspectives, ensuring a well-rounded evaluation.

5) Market Share Analysis:

Determine the market share held by each competitor and how it has evolved over time. Analyze industry reports, market research data, and historical trends to understand the competitive dynamics within your market.

6. Financial Assessment:

Analyse competitors' financial statements to gain insights into their financial health. Focus on key financial metrics such as revenue, profit margins, and return on investment.

This step provides a deeper understanding of their stability and growth potential.

7) Product/Service Analysis:

Examine the products or services offered by each competitor. Evaluate their pricing strategies , unique selling points, and any innovations they bring to the market.

This analysis helps identify areas where your offerings can stand out.

8) Customer Base and Experience:

Identify the target audience and customer segments for each competitor. Analyse customer feedback, reviews, and overall satisfaction to understand the customer experience.

This information is invaluable for refining your own customer-centric strategies.

9) Marketing and Advertising Strategies:

Explore how competitors market their products or services. Analyse their advertising channels, messaging, branding, and overall marketing strategies.

Understanding their promotional tactics can provide insights into effective approaches within your industry.

10) Synthesize Findings and Strategic Implications:

Synthesize the gathered information into actionable insights. Identify strategic implications for your business based on the analysis .

This final step involves making informed decisions, refining your strategies, and adapting your business to the competitive landscape.

Types of Competitor Analysis

  • Direct Competitor Analysis
  • Indirect Competitor Analysis
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Benchmarking
  • Product or Service Analysis
  • Market Share Analysis
  • Customer Analysis
  • Price and Value Comparison
  • Digital Competitor Analysis
  • Brand Perception Analysis

Competitor Analysis Example

Here you can find a basic competitor analysis example, for further examples and information regarding competitor analysis and templates for analysing, check out our blog on: Competitor Analysis Templates.

Aspect Description
Identification of Competitors SmartGadget, MobilePros, TabTech Tablets, CamPhone Cameras
Market Share and Size TechX Mobile: 25%, SmartGadget: 30%, MobilePros: 20%, TabTech Tablets: 15%, CamPhone Cameras: 10%

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. what is in a competitor analysis.

Competitor analysis involves identifying competitors, assessing their market share, and analyzing products/services.

It also includes understanding strengths and weaknesses, evaluating pricing and marketing strategies, reviewing online presence and customer feedback, examining technological capabilities, and conducting financial analysis.

The goal is to gain insights that inform strategic decision-making and maintain a competitive edge.

2. How do you identify your competitors?

Identify competitors by researching businesses offering similar products or services in your industry, targeting the same customer base or solving similar problems.

Analyse market share, online search results, industry reports, and customer feedback to compile a comprehensive list.

3. What is a competitive market analysis?

A competitive market analysis assesses the strengths and weaknesses of businesses in a specific industry, focusing on factors like market share, pricing, products, and marketing strategies to inform strategic decisions.

4. What's a competitive analysis & how do you conduct one?

A competitive analysis assesses strengths and weaknesses of businesses in the same industry to inform strategic decisions. Conduct one by identifying competitors, evaluating market share, analysing products/pricing, and reviewing customer feedback.

5. What tools can I use to do competitor analysis?

Consider Decktopus for competitor analysis presentations. Its user-friendly features streamline the process, making it easy to create visually compelling insights.

Explore the efficiency of Decktopus for effective competitor analysis.

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3 Types of Competitors to Watch (+ How to Find Them)

Erin Rodrigue

Published: January 20, 2022

According to a 2020 survey , most businesses have an average of 29 competitors. Do you know who yours are?

Marketer researching different types of competitors for her business.

All businesses have competition — and knowing yours is key for innovating your products, services, and marketing strategies. But identifying the competition isn't always obvious. Some are direct, while others may take more time to uncover.

Here, we'll cover the three types of competitors to watch, and five ways to identify them.

3 Types of Competitors in Business

1. direct competitors..

A direct competitor probably comes to mind when you think of your competition. These are businesses offering similar (or identical) products or services in the same market. They also vye for the same customer base.

Some famous examples of direct competitors include Apple versus Android, Pepsi versus Coca-Cola, and Netflix versus Hulu. But direct competition isn't exclusive to well-known national or international brands. Two shoe stores in a rural town are direct competitors. So are a handful of realtors servicing one area.

Digital companies also see direct competition. For example, after the success of Twitter’s Periscope app, Facebook pivoted its focus to live video to keep up.

Since direct competitors sell similar products in a similar manner, this type of competition is often a zero-sum game — meaning, a customer that buys a competitor's product won't buy yours. For example, if you buy a hamburger at McDonald's, it's not likely you'll swing by Burger King to buy another one.

2. Indirect competitors.

Indirect competitors are businesses in the same category that sell different products or services to solve the same problem.

For example, Taco Bell and Subway fall under the same category — fast-food — but they offer entirely different menu options. While they both seek to solve the same problem (feed hungry people), they provide different products to solve it.

Here's another example — residential painters experience indirect competition with home improvement chains like Home Depot or Lowes. Again, the category is the same but the product offerings differ.

Indirect competition isn't necessarily a zero-sum game. Consider someone buying supplies from Lowe's to re-paint their home —only to do a sloppy job. They may call a local painter to fix the mistakes.

3. Replacement competitors.

A replacement competitor offers an alternative to the product or service that you offer. You both seek to solve the same pain points, but the means are different.

For example, a restaurant and coffee shop in the same neighborhood could be replacement competitors. Walking down the street, some customers may choose to grab a to-go lunch from the coffee shop, while others prefer the restaurant.

The idea here is that customers are using the same resources to purchase the replacement that they could've used to buy your offerings.

These competitors are potentially dangerous if there's more than one way to solve the same problem you seek to resolve. Additionally, these are the most challenging competitors to identify. After all, we can't read people's minds and understand all the choices that led them to us.

But we can find other ways to uncover this information — such as requesting feedback from customers or keeping an eye on their social media mentions. With this insight, you can better understand your audience and identify your replacement competitors.

As you work to identify your competitors, you may discover more than you anticipated. Don't get overwhelmed. Remember that not all competitors are built the same — some are less of a threat than others.

Now let's discuss ways to identify the players above, below, and next to you.

5 Ways to Identify the Competition

1. check the first page of google..

An easy starting point is doing a quick Google search. Think of a few keywords someone might search to find you, such as [service or product] + [location]. For example, general contractor Sacramento .

Then, note the top companies on the first page of your search results. You may notice your keywords return thousands of results, but you shouldn't stress. The most relevant section is the first page and the competition directly above and below you on it. Those tend to be your direct competitors.

2. Research targeted keywords.

Check the keywords you are currently targeting to identify other businesses targeting the same ones.

This is a solid strategy for finding your indirect competition since they likely target the same keywords. For example, the keyword "fast-food" may reveal Subway and Taco Bell — both indirect competitors —as the top two results.

3. Monitor social media conversations.

Opinions are aplenty on social media — so it's relatively easy to find what your customers are saying . To find relevant conversations, enter your businesses' name in the search bar and check the results.

For instance, someone may post a question to Twitter asking what hair salon they should visit in your city. A follower may respond with the name of your business, along with a handful of others.

You can expand your search beyond social media to include community forums, such as Reddit or Quora — along with review sites like Yelp. Both of these resources can reveal helpful insight into your customers and why they chose your business over the competition.

4. Perform market research.

Check the market for your product or service and note any companies with a competing offer. Market research can be done a number of ways — whether that be with a Google search, by browsing through trade journals, or by talking with your sales team to see what other companies are commonly brought up by customers (to name a few).

5. Ask your customers.

Customers are crucial to identifying your competition — after all, they likely sifted through most of them before landing on you. There are many ways to solicit feedback from customers — both online and in-person. That could mean striking up conversations while cashing them out or sending an email survey after each sale. One way or another, try to find the best approach and regularly check the feedback for any trends.

Every business has competition, and it pays to know the top players. But remember, as your business grows and evolves, so too will the competition. A direct competitor may go out of business, or an indirect competitor may become a direct one. All this to say, make a habit of routinely checking those above, below, and next to you.

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competitors and alternatives in business plan

5 Strategic Ways to Write Competitor Analysis Business Plan

Have you ever heard about a competitor analysis business plan? Competitor analysis business plan is the way to analyze your competitors in business. Do you want to know about it? Let’s check this article out.

What Is Competitor Analysis Business Plan?

competitors and alternatives in business plan

What is competitive analysis of a business plan? Have you ever heard about it? As we know, a business plan is a document where you write your business goals and the things and ways to achieve them. When you are writing a business, it has to be informative by inputting all the business data like products and your business marketing strategies.

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There is a competitor analysis business plan. What is it and how to find the business plan competitive analysis example? So competitor analysis means analyzing your competitors strengths and weaknesses that might include the competitors marketing strategies, service development as well as the potential products. You can find all of the data by using the market research methods.

Read also: 11 Steps to Write Restaurant Business Plan with Examples

What Are the Benefits of Writing Competitor Analysis Business Plan?

Before you write an analysis of the competition in business plan, you can try to find the competitor analysis in business plan example first. But before that, you need to know the benefits of writing a competitive analysis template. Here are the benefits for you.

Identify Potential Competitors

competitors and alternatives in business plan

The first reason why you need to write business plan template is because it helps you to identify your potential competitors so that you can prepare a strategy to face it. When you are writing the competitor analysis business plan, here are several things you might get such as :

  • The highly profit margins in the industry.
  • It is relatively easy to enter the business market.
  • The market grow rapidly.
  • Few business competition.

Opportunities

competitors and alternatives in business plan

By using business plan format to analyze your competitors, you might get the opportunities to know your competitors very well. This also helps to increase your business strategy as well as its sales.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Other benefits you might get is you will know what risks your business might face up in the future. So that you can prepare any action or strategy in anticipation of something bad happening to your business.

How to Write Competitor Analysis Business Plan Examples

There are several ways to analyze your business competitors. You can use digital marketing competitor analysis to help you analyze your competitors including their product, brand, the marketing strategies and so on. 

Beside using digital analysis, you can also analyse it by writing a competitor analysis business plan. Are you curious on how to write a competitor analysis for a business plan? Here are the tips for you.

Find Out Who Is Your Competitor

competitors and alternatives in business plan

The first thing you need to do before writing a business plan is knowing who your competitor is. You can do the market search to help you find your competitors. Your competitors will depend on what and where you start your business. If you sell locally, your competitors must be the local business owner too. If you sell worldwidely, you might have local and international competitors.

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Find Out about Your Competitors

competitors and alternatives in business plan

After you know who your competitors are, you need to find out about them. Here are the things you need to find out, such as:

  • What markets do your competitors serve?
  • What products do your competitors offer and what are the benefits?
  • How many people are buying their product and what are the products?
  • What marketing strategies do they use?
  • What services do they offer to customers?

Gathering Information for Your Competitor Analysis

competitors and alternatives in business plan

You need to gather all information about your competitors to help you analyse them. You can search for your competitors’ information through the internet by looking at their company’s website or marketplace. But it is not enough, you can try to go to their business place and observe your competitors’ business and how they treat their customers.

For example if you set up a restaurant and you have other restaurant competitors, you can try to visit their restaurant and try out their menu. Then you can compare it to your menu. You will get the answer why your competitors get many customers? How do they treat them? How is the food they offer and so on. 

Analyzing the Competition

competitors and alternatives in business plan

When you have a bunch of your competitors’ information, you can try to analyze them. You also need to analyze the competition in the business. By knowing how your business as well as your competitors, you can find out what strategies you can use to compete with your competitors.

For some businesses, identifying the market niche really works to find out the specific target market. The market target might be group based on the gender, age, location and other factors. The goal by analysing your competitors is to identify and expand the competitive benefits that you can offer while other competitors can’t.

Writing the Competitor Analysis Section

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Business plan is not only used to analyse your competitors but you can use a business plan to find your business idea. The way you write the business plan is actually the same no matter what thing you want to analyze.

When you use a business plan to analyze your business competitors, you need to write the competitors analysis section in the form of paragraphs. First paragraph usually outlines about the competitive environment including who your competitors are, what products they offer, how much target they control and other related information about your competitors.

The following paragraphs usually talk about your competitors’ detailed advantages. In this paragraph, you need to explain what your competitors benefits and why your business competes with them, and what strategies your business should use to compete with them. You need to describe every step you need to take to compete with your competitors.

Read also: Tight Budget? Here 11 Marketing Tips for Online Business!

Competitor analysis means analyzing your competitors strengths and weaknesses that might include the competitors marketing strategies, service development as well as the potential products. You can find all of the data by using the market research methods .

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Restaurant Competitive Analysis

Your competitor analysis serves many purposes. By understanding your competitors, you position yourself to truly understand your market and create value propositions, differentiators, and a marketing strategy that goes above and beyond the competition. What better way to create an appealing business plan built to attract investors?

competitors and alternatives in business plan

When you’re choosing your location, you need to map out the local competitive landscape to know exactly who you’re up against. Doing this will also help you determine whether a particular neighbourhood is ripe for the picking, or is over-saturated with competitors.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The difference between direct and indirect competitors
  • The function of a competitive analysis
  • How to perform a competitive analysis
  • How to apply your competitive analysis to your decision making

Restaurant Competitive Analysis

What is a competitor?

In business, the definition of a competitor is any company in the same industry that offers similar products and services and caters to the same market. For restaurants, a competitor is any business that sells food to the same target market. Competitors can be divided into direct and indirect competition.

Direct Competition: Direct competitors are restaurants that are very similar to yours. They sell the same restaurant cuisine, operate under the same service model and appeal to the same target market. A few examples of direct competition are:

  • Pita Pit and Extreme Pita: Both are quick service restaurants that offer pitas.
  • McDonald’s and Burger King: Both are fast food restaurants that offer hamburgers.
  • Lao Sze Chuan and MingHin Cuisine: Both are Chicago-based, family style, Chinese restaurants.

Indirect Competition: Indirect competitors are harder to spot. They can sell different types of cuisine or operate under a different service model. But these businesses are competition because they cater to the same target market. While indirect competitors might not offer the exact same meals, they are still vying for the same hungry guests.

For example:

  • Panera Bread and Chipotle: Both are considered fast casual restaurants, however Panera Bread offers sandwiches where Chipotle offers Mexican dishes.
  • Freshii and Earls Kitchen: Freshii is a fast casual healthy eats restaurant. Earls Kitchen is known for its upscale, trendy atmosphere and serves gourmet comfort food. They are two completely different restaurants but both cater to the same target market, which means they classify as indirect competition.

What is a competitive analysis?

A competitive analysis is the methodical practice of analysing your competition from a variety of different angles in order to understand the marketplace and define your place in it. To complete a competitive analysis, you’ll look to your direct and indirect competitors and analyse menu items, marketing tactics, business practices, pricing, and brand positioning.

Why create a competitive analysis before you choose a location?

It may seem counterintuitive to look at competitors before you’ve determined your location, but creating a competitive analysis early on will help you:

  • Determine neighbourhoods that have a market gap which your restaurant can fill
  • Refine your restaurant’s offering to match and exceed local competition
  • Add evidence to your business plan
  • Attract investors

Evaluating competitors can also help determine the market’s appetite for your concept. If competition is doing well, your odds for success are higher. If not, you might be taking an unnecessary risk and be forced to reevaluate your concept.

How to Create a Competitive Analysis:

Open your favourite spreadsheet tool, whether that’s Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets or Apple Numbers, and begin with the following steps.

List out competitors by neighbourhood and type of competition.

To get a lay of the land:

  • Compile a list of competitors by neighbourhood
  • Indicate whether they are a direct or indirect competitor

Capture all direct and indirect competitors within a 10km radius of those five to eight potential neighbourhoods you narrowed down when choosing a location for your restaurant . At this point, you may have further refined the neighbourhoods you’re evaluating, which is great.

Pro tip: if you’re gathering competitive information to round out your business plan, include an analysis of competitors whose business model you admire. these competitors won’t add much to your location analysis. however, a successful competitor who has a business model worth emulating will add to your analysis. you can use their business operations and activities to dictate your own.

Once you’ve mapped out the competitive landscape, for each individual competitor, perform the following analysis:

  • Operational Analysis
  • Menu Analysis
  • Promotional Analysis
  • Customer Review Analysis
  • Overall SWOT Analysis

You’ll notice in each analysis, we recommend that you perform a SWOT analysis.

What is a SWOT analysis?

SWOT stands for:

  • S trengths: What is the competitor doing right? By understanding what your competitors are doing right, you can do it better.
  • W eaknesses: What could the competitor do better? Learn through your competitor’s mistakes by identifying holes in their operations.
  • O pportunities: How can you exploit those weaknesses and do better?
  • T hreats: Do they offer something unique that you can’t? Perhaps the competitor offers delivery, whereas your service model is table-service only. Alternatively, perhaps they are famous for a secret sauce they only make in-house. Identifying threats early will help you develop a defence before you move into the location.

OPERATIONAL ANALYSIS: How and why does their restaurant operate?

You can find most of this information on the competitor’s website.

In our competitor analysis template , fill in the following information.

  • Cuisine type.
  • Concept type. For direct competitors, this answer should emulate your concept type. For indirect competitors, indicate if they fit the fast casual, family style, fine dining, cafe, pub, or quick service concept models. For a detailed explanation of each restaurant concept, read The Different Types of Restaurant Concepts .
  • Mission statement. Find this on their homepage, “About” page, Investor Relations page, or Franchise Relations page. Some restaurants explicitly define their mission statement. For others, you may have to decode this information from their about statement or restaurant history.
  • Market saturation. Unless the restaurant is part of a publicly traded company, you won’t find an exact metric to fill this field. It is enough to indicate if they are part of a global franchise, an umbrella restaurant group or are an independent restaurant.
  • Date founded.
  • Hours of operation.
  • Number of seats. How many guests can they accommodate?
  • Restaurant services. Indicate if they offer pick-up, delivery or exclusively full-service. Indicate whether they use apps for pickup and delivery or strictly through phone-ins. (E.g. UberEats, Seamless, GrubHub, Doordash)
  • Operations Strengths.
  • Operations Weaknesses.
  • Operations Opportunities.
  • Operations Threats.

MENU ANALYSIS: What do they offer that’s different and how is it priced? What are they known for?

Find this information on the competitor’s website. Some restaurants won’t have their menus on their website. If this is the case, you might be able to find pictures of their menu on Yelp or other review sites.

On the template we provided, fill in the following information.

  • Best sellers. Is there a dish the competitor boasts as a bestseller or fan favourite? This might be indicated through a symbol or verbiage on their menu or on their website. Differentiators. For this section, indicate if the competitor adds custom twists on staple dishes, uses all organic ingredients, or any other menu-related offering that would set them apart.
  • Specials. Are they piggybacking on a current food trend or offering a seasonal dish?
  • Pricing. As we outlined in Restaurant Menu Ideas and Testing , perform a categorical analysis of appetisers, mains, desserts and staple dishes. For every food category, write down the highest and lowest price of items to determine the range (i.e. lowest cost for an appetiser vs. highest cost for an appetiser). Then repeat for each food category. Feel free to add columns for granular price ranges for categories like pasta dishes, salads and seafood.
  • Menu Strengths.
  • Menu Weaknesses.
  • Menu Opportunities.
  • Menu Threats.

PROMOTIONAL ANALYSIS: What are they doing to attract customers?

Find this information on the competitor’s website homepage or events page. You might be able to find additional promotional information on the competitor’s social media pages.

On the competitor analysis template we provided, fill in the following information.

  • Current promotions, deals, and dailies. Promotions include coupons or freebies. Deals include concepts like burger and a beer or half priced appetisers. Dailies would refer to daily recurring specials like Taco Tuesday or Wing Wednesday or happy hour.
  • Special events. For example: Live music, games night, Holiday dinner.
  • Promotional Strengths.
  • Promotional Weaknesses.
  • Promotional Opportunities.
  • Promotional Threats.

CUSTOMER REVIEW SITE ANALYSIS: What are their customers saying?

Find this information on customer reviews websites like Yelp , OpenTable, TripAdvisor , Zomato .

For efficiency, choose one site and complete the fields below using the template we provided:

  • Positive reviews: Analyse 4 and 5 star reviews to determine what the competitor is doing to please guests. This could range from a particularly noteworthy dish, to enjoyable service or ambience.
  • Negative reviews: Analyse 1, 2, 3 star reviews to determine where the competitor missed the mark. Was it cold food, a wrong dish, poor customer service? Also note if the restaurant responded to the complaint with an offering like a personal note, a coupon, or a free meal.
  • Customer Strengths.
  • Customer Weaknesses.
  • Customer Opportunities.
  • Customer Threats.

Learn how to conduct an extensive customer review analysis in the article Restaurant Menu Ideas & Testing .

Overall SWOT ANALYSIS: How do they compare to your prospective restaurant?

In this section, based on everything you’ve learned about your competitor, form your final impression about them. This section seeks to evaluate how they perform in the market and compare next to your restaurant.

  • Do you perceive the competitor as successful? In a word: answer yes or no. This column in your competitive analysis will help you later as you filter your spreadsheet by competitors you believe are doing a good job and want to emulate or those whose mistakes you want to avoid.
  • Overall Strengths.
  • Overall Weaknesses.
  • Overall Opportunities.
  • Overall Threats.

Tips on How To Use Your Competitive Analysis to Choose the Right Location for Your Restaurant

Competition isn’t always a bad thing.

There’s no hard, fast rule on what constitutes a “saturated market”, whereby there is so much competition, your restaurant won’t capture an audience. In fact, some business experts advise that you open near your biggest potential competitor. This logic may seem counterintuitive, but your business could benefit from overflow traffic.

Say, if that restaurant has a long wait or can’t accommodate a guest. Experts also suggest locating yourself near competition because consumers already associate that location with the your offering.

We see this all the time.

  • Busy streets with cafes and pizza restaurants on every corner.
  • Business areas that host an array of fast casual restaurants.
  • Food courts.

If you can confidently determine that you have a superior business model (a concept more targeted to your audience, higher quality food, better recipes, superior service, nicer ambiance etc.) or an offering that separates you from the competition in the mind of diners, then some competition should not dissuade you.

Of course, it’s important to note that competition isn’t the end-all-be-all when you’re choosing your location. It is a metric to be taken into consideration with other factors, including demographics, traffic, complementary businesses, the building, the space itself, zoning, and availability.

Consider the market share of local competition.

While this isn’t an exact science, with the right information, you can estimate the market share of your competitors to determine what’s remaining.

To determine the market share of your competitor, you’ll need to know:

  • The population of that area
  • The population of the target market.
  • An educated guess of the number of diners your competitor serves in a month. You can roughly determine this figure by their capacity and the seatings they turnover in a night.

For example, there is a population of 80,000 within a 15 minute drive of your competitor’s restaurant. 17,000 of those people make up your competitor’s target market. Estimate that they fill 80 bellies a day based on their seating capacity and general busyness.

Estimated Market Share = (Estimated Total Monthly Diners / Target Market Population) x 100

= ( (80 x 30) / 17,000) x 100

Project this against your own prospective market share and the market share of other neighbouring competitors in order to gauge the available market. Locations that have high populations of your target market are preferable. There’s more diner pie to go around to every competitor.

Use local competition to re-evaluate your strategic position.

Going up against the competition can mean re-imagining your restaurant in a new way. Refer back to your SWOT analysis to identify market gaps and refine your restaurant offering.

While it’s common to think that restaurant concepts are born into success from the sheer genius of the restaurateur, often success comes from that restaurateur tweaking their restaurant’s business plan to fill a market gap.

Some successful restaurants begin by analysing the market and creating a concept based on gaps they find.

Market gaps by concept: If you analysed a market and found a lot of quick service, take-out Chinese restaurants, you might consider turning your concept into a fine dining Chinese restaurant or a casual restaurant that caters to the hip, young professional elite.

Market gaps by need: A hot Vietnamese soup restaurant might perform better in a cold, wet, Pacific Northwest surf town than an ice cream shop.

Market gaps by creativity: Develop a unique menu by adding a special twist on common dishes that stand out from the rest of the competition.

You’re almost ready to start looking at restaurant spaces in viable locations, but your competitive analysis doesn’t end here. As you move forward, your restaurant concept and plans will continue to be dictated and inspired by your competitors.

For the purposes of choosing a location, your competitive analysis should add yet another layer of consideration as you analyse each location. Once you’ve determined a location is a fit based on competition, population, traffic and complementary businesses, it’s time to explore bylaws, zoning, permits and planning.

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6 Innovative Alternatives To The Traditional Business Plan

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Competition is fierce and many ambitious individuals have the same vision of success as you do. And the best place to start beating the competition (after coming up with a killer idea) is with a well laid out business plan.

Now if you’ve looked into the topic, then you know that there’s a lot of debate on whether or not the traditional business plan is still effective. For budding entrepreneurs today, the business plan is outdated, overly complex and unnecessary . This leads us to ask the obvious question: If you still need to map out your business idea for others, where does this leave you?

If you’re looking to create a business plan that can impress investors, here are some modern ideas and innovative services you should consider.

Use A PowerPoint Slide Deck For Effective Pitch Meetings

PowerPoint has always been the tool of choice for presenting ideas. Why not use it for pitching your business?

Walking potential investors through a PowerPoint presentation on your iPad can be very effective. Take Tim Young, founder of Socialcast, for example. He used 5 slides for a business pitch  in 2010 and managed to raise over 10 million in investment funds for 2 startups.

From his experience, he found that a presentation can help your pitch because “by sharing a screen and sitting in close proximity to each other, the environment naturally becomes more comfortable and relaxed.” Certainly an idea worth considering if you get nervous while presenting.

Create A Successful Business Model With  LaunchBoard

With LaunchBoard , you can create, both simple or complex business models in no time. The tool is a perfect solution when you need to define your business and understand your customers. With several important features, such as analyzing data and deciding the best way to move forward, the tool has all the necessary options for any companies to succeed.

Business Model Tool

Image Source: LaunchBoard.io

You can track your team’s progress with an easy access to members KPI’s and the ability to get involved in every decision-making process. Discover and develop new market opportunities, brainstorm and test ideas, organize files quickly and make all information understandable to everyone.

Use A Lean Canvas For Concise Business Plans

Just because your business plan is short doesn’t mean it isn’t well thought out. When you create one with Lean Stack , you can boil down the essentials down to a one page blue print for quick at-a-glance reading.

One Page Business Model

Using a Lean Canvas is best for those situations where you’re making a pitch to investors who  have very little time and can’t go through all the nitty-gritty details. This is a paid service, but offers  free 30-day trials for both individual and team plans.

Grow Your Busines With Strategyzer

Image Source: Strategyzer.com

With Strategyzer’s business model canvas, you are getting a platform and services that  understand their customers. The numbers speak for themselves — over 5 million active users. With Strategyzer you can easily create better products and quickly grow your business. Moreover, with this app, you can analyze any business idea and identify its market potential. It offers training options for the entire companies or simply one person.

Create  A Visual Business Plan With Pinterest

This idea may go against what you know about best business plan practices, but using Pinterest can be a creative way of visualizing your idea for others. In fact, Tim Berry, angel investor, business planner and entrepreneur, stands behind the idea.

According to him, a   business plan created with Pinterest is more accessible than a slide deck and is helpful in steering your business in the right direction. This method doesn’t describe your business; it focuses on the output of the plan.

As Tim Berry points out, “a business plan is worthwhile because of the decisions that result from it. If the Pinterest plan helps you organize a team and set the main points so you can move forward logically, why not?” I think that sums it up exactly.

Use Live Plan For Easy To Read Business Plans

Like the other suggested ideas, Live Plan tries to combine the serious nature of business plans with easy to read formats. It offers everything needed to keep your financials, business pitch and plan in check with an admin dashboard and support for team collaboration.

Live Plan makes it easy for you to forecast and prioritize the main financial elements of your business strategy like value propositions, key partnerships, cost structure and so on. This service is perfect for pitching a concise business plan investors and banks can instantly understand.

In this day and age, packaging and presenting your business plan effectively is becoming increasingly important if you want to stand out. Have you created a traditional business plan in the past? Which alternative would you use?

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What Is a Competitive Advantage?

  • How It Works

Competitive Advantage Areas

  • How to Build It
  • Comparative Advantage

The Bottom Line

  • Business Essentials

Competitive Advantage Definition With Types and Examples

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Yarilet Perez is an experienced multimedia journalist and fact-checker with a Master of Science in Journalism. She has worked in multiple cities covering breaking news, politics, education, and more. Her expertise is in personal finance and investing, and real estate.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Competitive advantage refers to factors that allow a company to produce goods or services better or more cheaply than its rivals. These factors allow the productive entity to generate more sales or superior margins compared to its market rivals. Competitive advantages are attributed to a variety of factors including cost structure, branding , the quality of product offerings, the  distribution network , intellectual property, and customer service.

Key Takeaways

  • Competitive advantage is what makes an entity's products or services more desirable to customers than that of any other rival.
  • Competitive advantages can be broken down into comparative advantages and differential advantages.
  • Comparative advantage is a company's ability to produce something more efficiently than a rival, which leads to greater profit margins.
  • A differential advantage is when a company's products are seen as both unique and of higher quality, relative to those of a competitor.

Investopedia / Michela Buttignol

Understanding Competitive Advantage

Competitive advantages generate greater value for a firm and its shareholders because of certain strengths or conditions. The more sustainable the competitive advantage, the more difficult it is for competitors to neutralize the advantage. The two main types of competitive advantages are comparative advantage and differential advantage.

A comparative advantage is when a firm can produce products more efficiently and at a lower cost than its competitors.

A differential advantage is when a firm's products or services differ from its competitors' offerings and are seen as superior. Advanced technology, patent-protected products or processes, superior personnel, and strong brand identity are all drivers of differential advantage. These factors support wide margins and large market shares.

For example, Apple is famous for creating innovative products, such as the iPhone, and supporting its market leadership with savvy marketing campaigns to build an elite brand. Another example is major drug companies. They can market branded drugs at high price points because they are protected by patents.

Competing on price can be effective, but if you slash prices too much you risk decreasing profit margins to an untenable level. Many firms opt instead to differentiate themselves in other ways, which helps preserve or expand their profit margin.

The term "competitive advantage" traditionally refers to the business world, but can also be applied to a country, organization, or even a person who is competing for something.

To build a competitive advantage, a company can use one of three main methods:

  • Cost: Provide offerings at the lowest price
  • Differentiation: Provide offerings that are superior in quality, service, or features
  • Specialization: Provide offerings narrowly tailored to a focused market

How to Build a Competitive Advantage

To build a competitive advantage, a company must know what sets it apart from its competitors and then focus its message, service, and products with that difference in mind. Here are several strategies companies use to build a competitive advantage:

  • Research the market : Market research helps a company identify and define its target market, which can guide it in developing the most effective advantage.
  • Identify strengths : A company can find its unique strengths, especially relative to competitors, by reviewing products, services, features, positioning, and branding.
  • Evaluate finances : Companies can take a close look at their financial performance to spot profit centers and areas of stability, using financial statements and ratios.
  • Review operations : How efficient is a company's operations? Where is it effective, and where is there room for improvement? Consider customer service as well as production and supply chain management.
  • Research and development (R&D): Securing intellectual property prohibits competitors from using processes or know-how that the company can use to produce products competitors can't legally copy.
  • Consider human resources : The talent a company can attract as employees and leadership can make an important difference in the success of the business. Evaluating company culture, hiring, and staffing practices can help.

Competitive Advantage vs. Comparative Advantage

A firm's ability to produce a good or service more efficiently than its competitors, which leads to greater profit margins, creates a comparative advantage. Rational consumers will choose the cheaper of any two perfect substitutes offered.

For example, a car owner will buy gasoline from a gas station that is 5 cents cheaper than other stations in the area. For imperfect substitutes, like Pepsi versus Coke, higher margins for the lowest-cost producers can eventually bring superior returns.

Economies of scale , efficient internal systems, and geographic location can also create a comparative advantage.

Comparative advantage does not imply a better product or service. It only shows the firm can offer a product or service of the same value at a lower price.

For example, a firm that manufactures a product in China may have lower labor costs than a company that manufactures in the U.S., so it can offer an equal product at a lower price. In the context of international trade economics, opportunity cost determines comparative advantages. 

Amazon ( AMZN ) is an example of a company focused on building and maintaining a comparative advantage. The e-commerce platform has a level of scale and efficiency that is difficult for retail competitors to replicate, allowing it to rise to prominence largely through price competition.

How Do I Know if a Company Has a Competitive Advantage?

If a business can increase its market share through increased efficiency or productivity, it will have a competitive advantage over its competitors.

How Can a Company Increase Its Competitive Advantage?

Lasting competitive advantages tend to be things competitors cannot easily replicate or imitate. Warren Buffet calls sustainable competitive advantages economic moats , which businesses can figuratively dig around themselves to entrench competitive advantages. This can include strengthening one's brand, raising barriers to new entrants (such as through regulations), and the defense of intellectual property.

Why Do Larger Companies Often Have Competitive Advantages?

Competitive advantages that accrue from economies of scale typically refer to supply-side advantages, such as the purchasing power of a large restaurant or retail chain. But advantages of scale also exist on the demand side—they are commonly referred to as  network effects . This happens when a service becomes more valuable to all of its users as the service adds more users. The result can often be a winner-take-all dynamic in the industry.

How Is Competitive Advantage Different From Comparative Advantage?

Comparative advantage mostly refers to international trade. It posits that a country should focus on what it can produce and export relatively the cheapest—thus if one country has a competitive advantage in producing both products A & B, it should only produce product A if it can do it better than B and import B from some other country.

A company's competitive advantage is the way it excels compared to its rivals. This advantage may be through cost leadership, differentiation, or focus. Identifying a company's competitive advantage helps show how it is positioned to be more successful than its competitors, creating more revenue and generating greater profits.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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Business Plan Alternatives

Discover innovative approaches to strategic planning with our document on Business Plan Alternatives. Explore non-traditional planning methodologies, collabo...

Business Plan Alternatives

Business Plan Alternatives: Exploring Innovative Approaches to Strategic Planning

In the ever-evolving and dynamic business landscape, traditional business plans may not always be the most effective tool for guiding the growth and success of a company. As entrepreneurs and business owners seek more flexible and adaptable planning methodologies, the concept of "business plan alternatives" has emerged as a game-changing approach.

Understanding the Purpose of a Business Plan

Before delving into the realm of alternative planning approaches, it's essential to grasp the purpose and significance of a traditional business plan. Traditionally, a business plan serves as a comprehensive document that outlines a company's goals, strategies, and financial projections. It is often used to secure funding, attract investors, and provide a roadmap for business operations.

However, despite its long-standing reputation, the traditional business plan does have its limitations. It is often a time-consuming and resource-intensive process, requiring extensive research, analysis, and documentation. Moreover, the rapidly changing business environment makes it challenging to predict and account for all the variables that may impact a company's success.

Exploring the Need for Business Plan Alternatives

In light of these limitations, many entrepreneurs and business professionals have started exploring alternative approaches to strategic planning. These alternatives offer more flexibility, adaptability, and creativity, allowing businesses to respond to changes in the market more effectively.

The need for business plan alternatives arises from several factors. Firstly, not all businesses fit the traditional mold. Startups, particularly those in the technology sector, often face uncertainty and ambiguity, making it difficult to create a detailed and accurate business plan. Additionally, businesses operating in fast-paced and disruptive industries may find that traditional planning methods are too rigid and slow to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape.

Furthermore, some entrepreneurs prefer to focus on iterative and experimental approaches rather than developing a comprehensive plan upfront. They believe in learning from failures and adapting their strategies based on market feedback. For these individuals, alternative planning methodologies offer a more agile and dynamic way of navigating the business landscape.

Non-Traditional Planning Approaches

In this blog post, we will explore several non-traditional planning approaches that have gained popularity among entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide. These approaches offer innovative ways to conceptualize, strategize, and execute business plans, providing a fresh perspective that challenges the conventional norms.

Lean Startup Methodology

One of the most widely recognized and influential alternatives to traditional planning is the Lean Startup methodology. This approach, popularized by Eric Ries, emphasizes rapid experimentation, validated learning, and iterative product development.

Unlike traditional business plans that focus on creating a detailed roadmap, the Lean Startup methodology encourages entrepreneurs to build a minimum viable product (MVP) and gather customer feedback early on. By leveraging a "build, measure, learn" feedback loop, businesses can quickly adapt their strategies based on real-world insights, reducing the risk of failure and maximizing chances of success.

Throughout this section, we will explore the principles, methodologies, and success stories associated with the Lean Startup methodology, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of how this alternative approach can revolutionize your strategic planning process.

Business Model Canvas

Another powerful tool in the realm of business plan alternatives is the Business Model Canvas. Developed by Alexander Osterwalder, this visual framework offers a holistic and concise representation of a company's business model, focusing on nine key building blocks.

The Business Model Canvas provides a more flexible and dynamic approach to planning by encouraging entrepreneurs to visualize and iterate on their business models. By considering various elements such as value proposition, customer segments, channels, and revenue streams, businesses can create a more comprehensive and adaptable strategy.

In this section, we will delve into the intricacies of the Business Model Canvas, explaining each building block in detail and showcasing real-life examples of successful businesses that have utilized this alternative planning approach to their advantage.

Effectuation

Effectuation, a term coined by Saras Sarasvathy, offers a unique perspective on strategic planning by focusing on the mindset and decision-making processes of successful entrepreneurs. Unlike traditional planning, which is based on a predictive approach, effectuation emphasizes entrepreneurial expertise, resourcefulness, and the ability to leverage existing means to achieve desired ends.

Throughout this section, we will explore the principles and steps involved in effectuation and how they differ from traditional planning methodologies. Additionally, we will examine case studies of businesses that have successfully utilized effectuation to navigate uncertainty, seize opportunities, and drive innovation.

Collaborative Planning Approaches

In addition to non-traditional planning methodologies, collaborative approaches to strategic planning have gained traction in recent years. These methods involve engaging multiple stakeholders, leveraging their diverse perspectives, and fostering collective intelligence to develop robust and inclusive business strategies.

Collaborative planning offers several advantages over traditional planning methods. By involving key stakeholders in the planning process, businesses can tap into a broader range of expertise, gain valuable insights, and foster a sense of ownership and commitment. Additionally, collaborative approaches promote effective communication, alignment of goals, and a shared understanding of the company's vision.

In the upcoming sections, we will explore three prominent collaborative planning approaches: Open Source Strategic Planning, Scenario Planning, and Design Thinking. We will delve into the principles, methodologies, and real-world examples associated with each of these approaches, providing you with the knowledge and tools to implement collaborative planning within your own organization.

Open Source Strategic Planning

Open Source Strategic Planning involves opening up the planning process to a diverse group of stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and even competitors. By leveraging collective intelligence, businesses can tap into a wealth of ideas, perspectives, and expertise, fostering innovation and driving strategic decision-making.

Throughout this section, we will explore the principles and benefits of Open Source Strategic Planning, providing insights into organizations that have successfully embraced this collaborative approach.

Scenario Planning

In an increasingly uncertain and complex business environment, Scenario Planning offers a powerful tool to anticipate and prepare for various future scenarios. Unlike traditional planning, which relies on a single forecast, Scenario Planning involves developing multiple plausible scenarios and creating strategies that are robust across different futures.

By considering a range of possible outcomes and their implications, businesses can adapt their strategies to mitigate risks and seize opportunities. In this section, we will delve into the principles, methodologies, and real-world examples associated with Scenario Planning, equipping you with the tools to navigate uncertainty and make informed decisions.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking, a human-centered approach to problem-solving, has gained popularity in various domains, including strategic planning. By emphasizing empathy, collaboration, and experimentation, Design Thinking enables businesses to identify customer needs, develop innovative solutions, and create unique value propositions.

Throughout this section, we will explore the key stages and methodologies involved in Design Thinking, showcasing how businesses have leveraged this approach to drive creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.

Technology-based Planning Tools

In today's digital era, technology plays a pivotal role in transforming the way businesses plan and strategize. Various software tools and online collaboration platforms have emerged, offering innovative solutions to streamline the planning process, enhance collaboration, and leverage data-driven insights.

In this section, we will explore two categories of technology-based planning tools: Business Planning Software and Online Collaboration Platforms. We will discuss the features, functionalities, and benefits of these tools, empowering you to select the right technology to support your planning endeavors.

Business Planning Software

Business Planning Software offers a comprehensive set of features to simplify and streamline the planning process. These tools often include templates, financial modeling capabilities, scenario analysis, and reporting functionalities, enabling businesses to create professional and data-driven business plans.

Throughout this section, we will explore popular Business Planning Software options, highlighting their key features and discussing the pros and cons of utilizing such tools.

Online Collaboration Platforms

Effective collaboration is essential for successful planning. Online Collaboration Platforms provide businesses with the means to engage stakeholders, share information, and foster collaboration in a virtual environment. These platforms often include features such as document sharing, real-time communication, project management, and version control.

In this section, we will explore popular Online Collaboration Platforms, outlining their functionalities and benefits, and providing tips for effective utilization.

Evaluating the Right Approach for Your Business

With a wide array of alternative planning approaches at your disposal, it is crucial to evaluate and select the right approach that aligns with your business goals, resources, and stage of development. In this section, we will discuss the key considerations for choosing the most suitable planning approach for your business.

We will explore factors such as alignment with business objectives, resource availability, budget constraints, and the current stage of your business. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and select the planning approach that best suits your unique needs.

Furthermore, we will discuss the potential benefits of combining multiple planning approaches to create a customized solution. By integrating different methodologies, businesses can leverage the strengths of each approach and develop a holistic and robust planning process.

Implementing and Monitoring the Chosen Approach

Selecting the right planning approach is just the first step. Successful implementation and continuous monitoring are crucial to ensure the effectiveness and relevance of your chosen approach. In this section, we will outline the steps to implement the chosen planning approach and provide tips for monitoring progress and evaluating its effectiveness.

We will discuss tools and techniques to track key performance indicators, gather feedback, and make data-driven adjustments to your planning process. By adopting a continuous improvement mindset, businesses can adapt their strategies and stay ahead of the competition.

Conclusion: Embracing Business Plan Alternatives for Success

In conclusion, traditional business plans are no longer the only path to success in today's rapidly changing business landscape. By exploring alternative planning approaches, businesses can foster innovation, adapt to uncertainty, and create strategies that are agile, flexible, and responsive.

In this comprehensive blog post, we have delved into various non-traditional planning methodologies, collaborative approaches, technology-based planning tools, and the process of evaluating and implementing the right planning approach for your business. By embracing these alternatives, you can unlock new possibilities, drive growth, and chart a successful course for your organization.

So, step away from the traditional norms, embrace innovation, and embark on a transformative journey of strategic planning with business plan alternatives.

Introduction to Business Plan Alternatives

In today's ever-changing business landscape, entrepreneurs and business owners are constantly seeking innovative approaches to strategic planning. Traditional business plans, while valuable in certain contexts, may not always be the most suitable tool for every business. This realization has led to the emergence of alternative planning methodologies that offer more flexibility, adaptability, and creativity.

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company's future, outlining its goals, strategies, and financial projections. It is traditionally used to secure funding, attract investors, and guide business operations. However, the traditional business plan has its limitations. It can be time-consuming and resource-intensive to create, often requiring extensive research and documentation. Moreover, the rapidly evolving business landscape makes it challenging to predict and account for all the variables that may impact a company's success.

The need for business plan alternatives arises from several factors. Not all businesses fit the traditional mold, especially startups or those in disruptive industries. These businesses often face uncertainty and ambiguity, making it difficult to create a detailed and accurate business plan. Additionally, some entrepreneurs prefer a more iterative and experimental approach, learning from failures and adapting their strategies based on market feedback. For these reasons, alternative planning methodologies have gained traction as more agile and dynamic ways to navigate the business landscape.

In this blog post, we will explore a wide range of business plan alternatives, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the various methodologies available. We will delve into non-traditional planning approaches, collaborative planning methods, and technology-based planning tools. By the end of this post, you will have the knowledge and insights to select the right approach for your business and drive its success.

As the need for more flexible and adaptable planning methodologies arises, non-traditional approaches to strategic planning have gained popularity among entrepreneurs and businesses. These alternative methods offer innovative ways to conceptualize, strategize, and execute business plans, challenging the conventional norms and providing fresh perspectives.

One of the most prominent non-traditional planning approaches is the Lean Startup methodology. Developed by Eric Ries, this approach emphasizes rapid experimentation, validated learning, and iterative product development. The Lean Startup methodology encourages entrepreneurs to build a minimum viable product (MVP) and gather customer feedback early on. By employing a "build, measure, learn" feedback loop, businesses can quickly adapt their strategies based on real-world insights, reducing the risk of failure and maximizing chances of success.

The Lean Startup methodology challenges the traditional notion of developing a comprehensive business plan upfront. Instead, it advocates for a more agile and customer-centric approach, where businesses continuously iterate and refine their products or services based on actual customer needs and feedback. By embracing the Lean Startup methodology, businesses can minimize waste, make data-driven decisions, and accelerate their path to success.

Numerous successful companies have adopted the Lean Startup methodology and reaped the benefits. For instance, Dropbox initially started as a simple video demonstration that gained immense interest from potential users. By using this feedback as validation, Dropbox was able to secure funding and develop its product further. The Lean Startup methodology allowed them to focus on learning from their users and refining their offering, ultimately leading to their remarkable success.

Throughout this section, we will explore the principles, methodologies, and case studies associated with the Lean Startup methodology. By understanding and implementing this alternative planning approach, businesses can navigate uncertainty, innovate efficiently, and increase their chances of achieving sustainable growth.

Another alternative planning approach that has gained significant attention is the Business Model Canvas. Developed by Alexander Osterwalder, the Business Model Canvas is a visual framework that allows businesses to outline and iterate upon their business models in a concise and comprehensive manner.

The Business Model Canvas consists of nine key building blocks that cover various aspects of a business, including customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key activities, key resources, key partnerships, and cost structure. By considering each building block and their interdependencies, businesses can create a holistic view of their business model and identify areas for improvement or innovation.

What sets the Business Model Canvas apart from traditional business plans is its emphasis on flexibility and adaptability. Rather than providing a static and detailed roadmap, the Canvas allows businesses to experiment with different configurations, iterate on their business model, and respond to market feedback and changing conditions.

One of the advantages of using the Business Model Canvas is its ability to foster collaboration and alignment within an organization. By bringing together key stakeholders, such as executives, managers, and employees, to collectively fill in the Canvas, businesses can ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of the business model and can contribute their unique perspectives and insights.

Numerous successful companies have utilized the Business Model Canvas to drive innovation and strategic decision-making. Airbnb is a notable example. By utilizing the Canvas, Airbnb was able to identify the untapped potential in the vacation rental market and redefine the way people travel and experience accommodations. The Canvas allowed them to visualize and refine their business model, leading to their exponential growth and disruption of the hospitality industry.

Throughout this section, we will delve into the intricacies of the Business Model Canvas, explaining each building block in detail and showcasing real-life examples of successful businesses that have utilized this alternative planning approach. By leveraging the Business Model Canvas, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their value proposition, target market, and revenue streams, enabling them to make informed strategic decisions and stay ahead in today's competitive business landscape.

In the realm of business plan alternatives, effectuation stands out as an approach that focuses on entrepreneurial expertise, resourcefulness, and leveraging existing means to achieve desired ends. Coined by Saras Sarasvathy, effectuation offers a different perspective on strategic planning by emphasizing the mindset and decision-making processes of successful entrepreneurs.

Unlike traditional planning approaches that rely on predictive reasoning and extensive market research, effectuation starts with the available resources, the entrepreneur's unique set of skills, and the immediate context. It embraces uncertainty and takes a more iterative and experimental approach to developing and refining business strategies.

Effectuation operates on five key principles: the bird-in-hand principle, affordable loss, the lemonade principle, the crazy quilt principle, and the pilot-in-the-plane principle. These principles guide entrepreneurs in making decisions and taking actions based on what they can control rather than trying to predict the future.

The bird-in-hand principle encourages entrepreneurs to start with their existing means and resources, leveraging what they have rather than waiting for ideal conditions or extensive resources. The affordable loss principle advises entrepreneurs to take calculated risks and only invest what they can afford to lose, avoiding excessive risk-taking that could jeopardize the overall business.

The lemonade principle encourages entrepreneurs to embrace surprises and turn unexpected challenges into opportunities. By being adaptable and open to change, entrepreneurs can creatively pivot their strategies to address emerging market needs. The crazy quilt principle emphasizes the importance of building strong networks and partnerships, leveraging the diverse skills and resources of others to create value. Finally, the pilot-in-the-plane principle highlights the need for entrepreneurs to stay in control and take personal responsibility for their actions, rather than relying solely on external market forces.

Effectuation differs significantly from traditional planning methodologies as it embraces uncertainty and encourages entrepreneurs to co-create the future through their actions. Instead of trying to predict and control the market, effectuation empowers entrepreneurs to shape and influence their business environment actively.

Numerous successful entrepreneurs have embraced effectuation and achieved remarkable results. For example, the story of Slack, the popular team collaboration tool, exemplifies the principles of effectuation. Initially developed as an internal communication tool for a gaming company, Slack gained traction and popularity through word-of-mouth referrals. Slack's founders leveraged their existing resources, focused on creating value for users, and iteratively refined their product based on customer feedback. This effectual approach allowed Slack to become one of the fastest-growing software companies in history.

Throughout this section, we will explore the concept of effectuation, its key principles, and the steps involved in applying this alternative planning approach. Additionally, we will examine case studies of businesses that have successfully utilized effectuation to navigate uncertainty, seize opportunities, and drive innovation. By adopting effectuation principles, entrepreneurs can foster a mindset of resourcefulness, adaptability, and entrepreneurial action, leading to increased chances of success in the ever-changing business landscape.

In addition to non-traditional planning methodologies, collaborative approaches to strategic planning have gained significant traction in recent years. These methods involve engaging multiple stakeholders, leveraging their diverse perspectives, and fostering collective intelligence to develop robust and inclusive business strategies.

Collaborative planning offers several advantages over traditional planning methods. By involving key stakeholders in the planning process, businesses can tap into a broader range of expertise, gain valuable insights, and foster a sense of ownership and commitment. Moreover, collaborative approaches promote effective communication, alignment of goals, and a shared understanding of the company's vision.

In this section, we will explore three prominent collaborative planning approaches: Open Source Strategic Planning, Scenario Planning, and Design Thinking. These approaches empower businesses to harness the collective wisdom and creativity of their teams, resulting in more innovative and resilient strategies.

The Open Source Strategic Planning approach challenges the notion that planning should be confined to a select group of executives or managers. Instead, it recognizes that valuable insights and ideas can come from unexpected sources. By involving a wide range of stakeholders, businesses can gather diverse perspectives, identify blind spots, and uncover new opportunities.

Open Source Strategic Planning often involves facilitated workshops, brainstorming sessions, and collaborative platforms to ensure effective participation and idea generation. By creating an inclusive and transparent planning process, businesses can foster a sense of ownership and commitment among stakeholders, leading to increased engagement and alignment.

Several organizations have successfully embraced Open Source Strategic Planning to drive innovation and achieve strategic objectives. For example, LEGO, the renowned toy company, launched the LEGO Ideas platform, which allows fans and enthusiasts to submit their design ideas for new LEGO sets. By involving their customers in the planning process, LEGO tapped into the creativity and passion of their fan base, resulting in the development of popular LEGO sets that resonated with their target market.

Throughout this section, we will explore the principles and benefits of Open Source Strategic Planning, providing insights into organizations that have successfully embraced this collaborative approach. We will also discuss strategies for effectively implementing Open Source Strategic Planning within your own organization, ensuring that you can leverage the collective intelligence of your stakeholders to drive innovation and achieve strategic goals.

In an increasingly uncertain and complex business environment, scenario planning has emerged as a powerful tool for strategic planning. Unlike traditional planning approaches that rely on a single forecast, scenario planning involves developing multiple plausible scenarios and creating strategies that are robust across different futures.

The fundamental premise of scenario planning is that the future is uncertain and unpredictable. By considering a range of possible outcomes and their implications, businesses can prepare themselves to adapt their strategies to different scenarios. This proactive approach enables businesses to mitigate risks, seize opportunities, and make informed decisions in an ever-changing landscape.

The process of scenario planning typically involves several key steps. The first step is to identify the critical uncertainties that have the potential to significantly impact the business. These uncertainties could be related to technological advancements, regulatory changes, market trends, or geopolitical shifts. Once the uncertainties are identified, multiple scenarios are developed based on different combinations of these uncertainties. These scenarios represent different possible futures, each with its own set of opportunities and challenges.

The next step is to analyze the implications of each scenario on the business. This involves assessing the potential impact on various aspects such as market demand, competition, supply chain, and financials. By understanding the potential outcomes and their implications, businesses can develop strategies that are robust and adaptive across multiple scenarios.

Scenario planning is not about predicting the future with certainty; rather, it is about building resilience and flexibility into business strategies. It allows businesses to be better prepared for a range of plausible futures and make informed decisions in the face of uncertainty. By considering a broad spectrum of possibilities, businesses can identify early warning signals, spot emerging trends, and position themselves strategically in the market.

Several organizations have successfully utilized scenario planning to navigate uncertainty and drive their success. Royal Dutch Shell, for example, has been employing scenario planning since the 1970s to anticipate and adapt to changes in the global energy landscape. By developing scenarios that explore different geopolitical, economic, and technological factors, Shell has been able to make strategic decisions that have positioned them as a leader in the energy industry.

Throughout this section, we will delve into the principles, methodologies, and real-world examples associated with scenario planning. By incorporating scenario planning into their strategic planning process, businesses can enhance their ability to anticipate change, identify strategic options, and make proactive decisions to thrive in an uncertain and dynamic business environment.

Design Thinking is a collaborative planning approach that puts human needs and experiences at the forefront of the planning process. Originating from the world of product design, Design Thinking has gained popularity as a strategic planning methodology that fosters creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.

At its core, Design Thinking revolves around empathy, collaboration, and experimentation. It encourages businesses to deeply understand the needs and desires of their customers, challenge assumptions, and ideate creative solutions. By adopting a human-centered approach, Design Thinking enables businesses to develop products, services, and strategies that truly resonate with their target audience.

The Design Thinking process typically consists of five stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. In the empathize stage, businesses seek to understand the perspective of their customers by conducting interviews, observations, and empathy exercises. This deep understanding helps businesses identify unmet needs and uncover valuable insights.

Next, in the define stage, businesses synthesize the information gathered during the empathize stage to define the problem or opportunity they aim to address. This stage involves reframing the challenge in a way that focuses on the needs and aspirations of the end-users.

In the ideate stage, businesses generate a wide range of ideas and potential solutions. This stage encourages brainstorming, free thinking, and collaboration to come up with innovative and out-of-the-box concepts. No idea is considered too wild or unrealistic during this stage, as it is about exploring possibilities and pushing boundaries.

Once a set of ideas is generated, the prototyping stage begins. This involves creating tangible representations of the ideas, such as mock-ups, sketches, or even interactive prototypes. Prototypes are used to quickly test and gather feedback from end-users, allowing businesses to refine and iterate on their ideas.

The final stage of the Design Thinking process is testing. In this stage, businesses gather feedback from end-users to evaluate the viability and desirability of the solutions. Through user testing and observation, businesses can gain valuable insights that inform further refinements and improvements.

Design Thinking encourages businesses to embrace a mindset of continuous learning, iteration, and improvement. It emphasizes the importance of rapid experimentation and feedback loops to refine ideas and create solutions that truly meet the needs of the customers.

Design Thinking has been successfully adopted by various organizations, including global companies like Apple and IBM. Apple's commitment to creating user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing products can be attributed to their strong embrace of Design Thinking principles. By deeply understanding their customers' desires, pain points, and aspirations, Apple has been able to develop groundbreaking products that have transformed entire industries.

Throughout this section, we will explore the key stages and methodologies involved in Design Thinking. We will showcase how businesses have leveraged this approach to drive creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity. By adopting Design Thinking principles, businesses can unlock new possibilities, develop user-centered solutions, and differentiate themselves in competitive markets.

Business Planning Software provides businesses with a comprehensive set of features and functionalities to simplify and streamline the planning process. These tools often include templates, financial modeling capabilities, scenario analysis, and reporting functionalities, enabling businesses to create professional and data-driven business plans.

Business Planning Software offers numerous benefits for businesses. It allows for greater efficiency and accuracy in creating and updating business plans, as it automates calculations, provides real-time data integration, and offers centralized storage for easy access. These software tools also enable businesses to perform financial projections, conduct sensitivity analyses, and generate reports that can be shared with stakeholders.

When choosing Business Planning Software, businesses should consider their specific needs, such as the complexity of their financial models, the level of customization required, and the ability to collaborate with team members. Popular Business Planning Software options include LivePlan, Bizplan, and Enloop.

Online Collaboration Platforms offer several advantages for businesses. They facilitate effective communication and collaboration among team members, regardless of their geographical location. These platforms also improve document management and version control, ensuring that everyone is working on the latest version of files. Moreover, they provide a centralized space for discussions, feedback exchange, and task management, enhancing team productivity and alignment.

When selecting an Online Collaboration Platform, businesses should consider factors such as ease of use, security features, integration capabilities with other tools, and scalability. Examples of popular Online Collaboration Platforms include Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Trello.

By leveraging Business Planning Software and Online Collaboration Platforms, businesses can enhance their planning processes, streamline collaboration, and leverage data-driven insights. These technology-based tools provide businesses with the agility, efficiency, and accuracy needed to navigate the complexities of strategic planning in today's fast-paced business environment.

With a wide array of business plan alternatives available, it is crucial to evaluate and select the right approach that aligns with your business goals, resources, and stage of development. While each alternative approach offers unique benefits, not all may be suitable for every business. Consideration of various factors will help you make an informed decision and choose the most effective planning methodology for your specific needs.

Factors to Consider

When evaluating business plan alternatives, several factors should guide your decision-making process:

Alignment with Business Objectives

Consider how well each planning approach aligns with your overall business objectives. Evaluate whether the alternative approach provides the flexibility, adaptability, and innovation necessary to achieve your goals. Ensure that the chosen methodology can support your long-term vision and strategic direction.

Resource Availability and Budget Constraints

Assess the resources available within your organization to implement and sustain the chosen planning approach. Consider the financial investment, time commitment, and expertise required. Choose an approach that is feasible within your resource constraints to ensure successful implementation and execution.

Current Stage of Business Development

The stage of your business development can influence the choice of planning approach. Startups and early-stage businesses may benefit from lean and agile methodologies, such as the Lean Startup or Design Thinking, which allow for rapid experimentation and learning. Established businesses, on the other hand, may find value in more structured and collaborative approaches, such as Open Source Strategic Planning or Scenario Planning.

Combining Approaches for a Customized Solution

In some cases, combining different planning approaches can lead to a more customized and effective solution. Integrating multiple methodologies allows businesses to leverage the strengths of each approach and address the specific needs and challenges they face. For example, combining the Lean Startup methodology with the Business Model Canvas can provide a powerful framework for innovation and business model refinement.

By combining approaches, businesses can create a unique planning process that suits their specific context, industry, and goals. However, it is important to ensure that the different methodologies align and complement each other, rather than create confusion or conflicting strategies.

Once you have selected the most suitable planning approach, the implementation and monitoring phase is crucial for success. Develop a clear action plan outlining the steps required to adopt and execute the chosen approach. Assign responsibilities, set milestones, and establish a timeline for implementation.

Monitoring the effectiveness of the chosen approach is equally important. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to evaluate the impact of the planning methodology on your business. Regularly review and analyze the data to make informed adjustments and improvements.

Continuous improvement and adaptation of the chosen approach are vital to ensure its long-term effectiveness. As your business evolves and market conditions change, be open to revisiting and refining your planning methodologies to stay ahead of the competition.

By carefully evaluating, implementing, and monitoring the chosen planning approach, businesses can maximize the benefits of business plan alternatives and drive their success in today's dynamic and competitive business landscape.

In conclusion, traditional business plans are no longer the only path to success in today's rapidly changing business landscape. As the business environment becomes more unpredictable and dynamic, exploring alternative planning approaches is essential for businesses to thrive. The alternatives we have explored in this blog post - including Lean Startup methodology, the Business Model Canvas, effectuation, collaborative planning approaches, and technology-based planning tools - offer innovative and flexible ways to strategize and drive business growth.

By embracing business plan alternatives, entrepreneurs and business owners can foster innovation, adapt to uncertainty, and create strategies that are agile, flexible, and responsive. These alternative approaches challenge the traditional norms and encourage businesses to think differently, experiment, and adapt their strategies based on real-world insights and feedback.

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing a planning approach. Each business is unique, and the most effective methodology may vary depending on factors such as industry, stage of development, available resources, and specific goals. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate the different planning approaches against these criteria and select the one that best aligns with your business objectives and constraints.

Furthermore, businesses can also consider combining different planning approaches to create a customized solution that suits their specific needs. By integrating multiple methodologies, businesses can leverage the strengths of each approach and address the complexities and challenges they face.

Implementing the chosen planning approach requires careful planning, execution, and continuous monitoring. It is important to develop an action plan, assign responsibilities, and establish a system for monitoring progress and evaluating the effectiveness of the chosen approach. Regularly review and analyze the data to make informed adjustments and improvements.

In a rapidly changing business landscape, adaptability and continuous improvement are critical. Businesses should remain open to exploring new planning methodologies, embracing emerging trends, and adapting their strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

By embracing business plan alternatives, entrepreneurs and business owners can navigate uncertainty, foster innovation, and position themselves for long-term success. The future of strategic planning lies in the ability to think creatively, collaborate effectively, and embrace change. So, step away from the traditional norms, explore the alternatives, and embark on a transformative journey of strategic planning with business plan alternatives.

Adrian Kennedy is an Operator, Author, Entrepreneur and Investor

Adrian Kennedy

Top 8 Bizplan Alternatives & Competitors in 2024

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Despite having all the resources and tools, entrepreneurs struggle to finish the first draft of their business plans. Reason?

Not having the right business plan software and strategic planning approach. Indeed, writing a business plan is no easy feat, but the process can be fun and easier through the right approach and business plan software.

Bizplan is one of the most trusted business planning solutions helping businesses create business plans, forecast financials, and secure funds.

Still, it’s not your only option. There are a bunch of Bizplan alternatives providing similar features at incredible rates.

Let’s dig in to understand why these options are worth considering.

Why Consider Alternatives to Bizplan?

Indeed. Bizplan is an incredible business plan software offering many exciting features like—direct access to planning experts and fundraising tools. Still, here are a few drawbacks that make you reconsider your decision:

  • Limited customizations
  • Limited collaboration features
  • No free version or trial
  • Limited integrations
  • No pitch deck creator

So despite spending $29 on a monthly subscription, you may not get all the needed features.

In this article, we’ll review the top 8 Bizplan competitors, their pricing, and features, so you don’t have to trudge through the online research tunnel.

Sounds good? Let’s dive right in.

What are the Best Bizplan Alternatives?

Jump to section, 1. upmetrics.

Upmetrics Simplifies the complex process of writing

Professional Business Plan

competitors and alternatives in business plan

With competitive pricing, an advanced feature line, and a seamless & user-friendly user interface— Upmetrics is the best Bizplan alternative to help you create a winning business plan.

It is specifically designed for startups and small businesses. Hence, everything about Upmetrics suits new-age entrepreneurs, be it user-friendliness, pricing, or financial projection features.

Here are the key features that make Upmetrics a better choice than Bizplan:

  • Competitive Pricing: Upmetrics’ competitive pricing plans are a massive plus for those planning to switch to Upmetrics. Its starter plan costs $7 per month, whereas Bizplan’s monthly plan costs $29.
  • User Interface and Design: Upmetrics is known for its intuitive, interactive, and user-friendly UI. It’s easier for users to navigate through the application. The visually appealing designs enhance the user experience.
  • Financial Modeling: Upmetrics offers advanced financial modeling and forecasting features at an affordable price which you may not get with Bizplan.
  • Customer Support: Upmetrics is known for its prompt and responsive customer support team. No matter what plan you are on, you will always receive enterprise-like support.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Starter Plan

Billed annually (Save up to 25%)

Team Member

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Monthly Plan

Active Companies

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Check out this table for a detailed feature comparison of Upmetrics and Bizplan:

Business plan templates
AI Assistance
One-page pitch builder
Business plan course
Business plan version control
Strategic planning
Pinboard to organize ideas
Collaboration tools
Task management
Discounted price for students and nonprofits

What are you waiting for?

Business Planning Start @7/mo

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Here’s a list of other incredible features of Upmetrics you may like to consider:

  • 400+ fully customizable business plan examples to get started.
  • Easy-to-use business plan builder with drag-and-drop tools.
  • Financial forecasting tool to plan and manage your cash flow with ease.
  • Easy to share or collaborate with the team in real time.
  • Pitch deck creator to create perfect pitches and impress investors.
  • AI assistance while creating a business plan.
  • Create actionable business strategies using various business model canvases.
  • Easily customize and edit cover pages.
  • Real-time updates and cloud storage, eliminating the risk of data loss.
  • Business resources, video tutorials, and guides to help get started.
  • Intuitive, seamless, and responsive user interface.

Aizat Hawari, PhD

2. Ideabuddy

Ideabuddy is a business planning software designed for new-age entrepreneurs to help them turn their ideas into actionable business plans.

This Bizplan alternative is designed on a principle where users can develop, test, and launch their business idea—all in one place.

If you are a first-time entrepreneur with limited financial knowledge, this is the tool you need for business planning.

Some of Ideabuddy’s key features may include:

  • Modern business plan with a click
  • Export your plan and financials
  • Mobile-friendly platform
  • Customizable templates and industry-based guides
  • Test to score your idea
  • Step-by-step business guide
  • Brainstorm ideas with your team

Ideabuddy Compared to Bizplan:

Ideabuddy is best known for idea creation and its easy-to-use functionalities. As mentioned, this tool is designed to help users develop, test, and launch their business ideas in one place.

It is way ahead of its competitor Bizplan regarding user-friendliness and ease of use for beginners. However, it may lack comprehensive business planning features like financial forecasting.

Pricing: Ideabuddy’s subscription costs $15 for one business idea and collaborator. A free plan is also available with some basic functionalities.

3. Liveplan

LivePlan is one of the best business planning, budgeting, and performance-tracking software for startups and small business owners.

This Bizplan alternative simplifies the process of creating a professional business plan with its instruction manuals, tutorials, and expert guidance, whereas its automated financials built-in with formulas ensure precise financial forecasting.

However, Liveplan may not be suitable for flexible financial forecasting, so you may consider other Liveplan alternatives.

Some of Liveplan’s key features may include:

  • Business plan templates
  • Budgeting and expense tracking
  • Online learning tools & resources
  • Collaborative planning
  • Pitch deck creator
  • Dashboard and reporting
  • Integrated document storage

LivePlan Compared to Bizplan

Features and functionality wise LivePlan is a better business plan tool compared to Bizplan. Whether you are a startup or a well-established organization, LivePlan has features for businesses of all kinds.

While Liveplan is the overall better choice, you may consider choosing Bizplan if you need direct access to planning experts and fundraising tools.

Price: LivePlan’s standard plan costs $20/month for one user. They do not have any free trial or demo plan as part of their pricing plan.

Create winning Business Plans with ultimate

AI Business Plan Generator

Plans starting from $7/month

competitors and alternatives in business plan

4. BizPlanBuilder

BizPlanBuilder is a tool powered by BusinessPowerTools—an all-in-one platform providing entrepreneurs with guidance, resources, and tools to help them start and grow their business ventures.

It is an easy-to-use tool helping entrepreneurs and small business owners create comprehensive and investment-ready business plans.

The Bizplan alternatives aim to streamline the business planning process with its user-friendly interface, robust features, and structured framework.

Here’s an extended list of features BizPlanBuilder may provide:

  • 150+ industry-specific sample plan templates
  • Financial analysis and projections
  • Pitch deck templates
  • Strategic planning
  • Collaboration tools
  • Automatic backup and restore

BizPlanBuilder Compared to Bizplan

BizPlanBuilder is a business planning solution best known for its comprehensive business tools and resources, including financial analysis and projections, wizard-driven financial models, and industry-specific guidance.

On the other hand, Bizplan primarily focuses on the platform’s simplicity and ease of use. They also provide direct access to planning experts and fundraising tools to help your startup raise capital.

If you weigh more on the feature side, go with BizPlanBuider, and if you consider a streamlined approach to planning—BizPlan is the way to go.

Price: BizplanBuilder’s monthly subscription starts at $27. However, they also have a lifetime subscription plan costing $397.

5. The Business Plan Shop

The Business Plan Shop is a business & financial planning and analysis platform for small and medium-sized business owners and financial advisors.

Its industry-specific business plan templates make it easier for beginners to get started.

Despite its many features, the business plan software specializes in financial analysis, forecasting, and KPI tracking. It surely has a few advanced features but can be expensive for startups and small businesses.

Some of The Business Plan Shop’s key features may include:

  • Financial forecasting software
  • Sync accounting data
  • Drag and drop templates and editor
  • Integration with financial data
  • Collaboration and sharing
  • Faster than Microsoft Word

The Business Plan Shop Compared to Bizplan

The Business Plan Shop is a business planning tool best known for its financial forecasting, analysis, and KPI tracking capabilities, whereas Bizplan provides a streamlined approach to business planning with some additional startup tools and resources.

The user experience and ease of use in this case is a matter of personal preference here. You may consider taking free trials of both tools to better understand them.

Price: The Business Plan Shop’s business and CFO plan starts at 25.50. They also have a free trial available, so you may try it out before purchasing it.

6. MAUS Hub

MAUS hub ’s business strategy software is a powerful tool to streamline your business planning process.

It helps you easily develop an investment-ready business plan simply by offering business plan templates, tutorials, and educational resources for every step in the planning process.

MAUS specializes in business & strategic planning, performance tracking, and KPI management.

Some of MAUS hub’s key features may include:

  • Financial analysis & forecasting
  • Performance tracking & monitoring
  • Collaboration & team management
  • Seamless integrations
  • Training & support

MAUS Hub Compared to Bizplan

Market segmentation features, detailed statements & impressive charts, and ease of use make MAUS hub’s business strategy software an excellent tool for entrepreneurs to create business plans.

However, real-time errors and high pricing may make considering this tool a big concern for early-stage startups and small business owners.

If you have big pockets to spend on business plan software, you may choose MAUS, but tools like Bizplan and Upmetrics are always better and cost-effective choices.

Price: MAUS hub has three different pricing packages as a part of their SMB subscription plan. However, you must contact their sales team to know more about their pricing.

Planful is a cloud-based business planning and financial performance management software for comprehensive business planning.

The Bizplan alternative focuses on financial performance management, with key features being financial close management, reporting, and consolidation. The tool is specifically designed for medium and large-scale enterprises; there could be a significant learning curve for newbie entrepreneurs.

Some of Planful’s key features may include:

  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Financial consolidation
  • Scenario modeling
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Financial close management
  • Data integration and connectivity
  • Responsive web and mobile apps

Planful Compared to Bizplan

As mentioned before, Planful is a cloud-based enterprise performance management platform with financial applications for planning, modeling, consolidation, reporting, and analysis.

Planful is an advanced financial planning tool, but it lacks comprehensive business planning writing features and tools.

So, if you are a startup or small business owner looking to build a comprehensive business plan, you may consider other free alternatives.

Price: Planful does not have a structured pricing model on their website; you may contact its sales team for information about its pricing.

Brixx is a competitive Bizplan alternative helping entrepreneurs with business plan creation, financial modeling, scenario planning, and goal tracking.

You can also integrate Brixx with your accounting software to automate the syncing of your actuals and forecast, making it easier to get started.

Talking about other features, the interactive charts and graphs make the financial data more understandable for readers.

Some of Brixx’s key features may include:

  • 1-10 year financial forecasts
  • Professional charts and reports
  • Automated tax forecasts
  • Quick-start templates
  • Share plans in real-time
  • Business Resources
  • 3-way forecasting

Brixx Compared to Bizplan

Brixx is primarily a financial modeling and forecasting tool focusing on creating detailed financial projections for startups and small businesses.

Though it is better than Bizplan at financial projections and forecasting, it may lack perfection in other business planning areas.

If your goal is detailed financial projections, this tool up here is the right choice for you, but considering the overall performance, you may consider other tools from the list, like Upmetrics.

Price: Brixx’s monthly subscription starts at $22, and a free plan is also available with some basic functionalities.

And that’s it for today, let’s lead to the conclusion!

Bizplan is undoubtedly a great business planning solution. Still, some competitive alternatives like Upmetrics provide some of the most intriguing features at incredible prices to lure our attention.

Investing time and resources in the wrong tool is frustrating before understanding if it’s the right fit. So, we made the case different with Upmetrics.

Try Upmetrics and get your money back within 15 days if you don’t find it the right fit. Happy business planning!

Say No to Expensive Business Planning Software!

Get Affordable and Feature-Packed Business Planning with Upmetrics

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why use a bizplan alternative.

Bizplan may not be a perfect fit for businesses of all kinds. On the other hand, business planning tools like Upmetrics provide similar features at a really affordable rate. So, exploring other options is always a smart move.

Is Upmetrics better than Bizplan?

Considering feature offerings, support, and pricing plans, Upmetrics is a better business planning tool than Bizplan. Upmetrics’ starter plan provides access to many advanced features like 200+ business plan templates, financial forecasting tools, and pitch deck creator, which may not be the case with Bizplan.

How expensive is Bizplan?

Bizplan offers 3 subscription plans at various pricing ranges:

  • Monthly plan: $29
  • Annual plan: $249
  • Lifetime plan: $349

Does Bizplan integrate with Quickbooks?

Yes, Bizplan offers supported integrations with accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero.

What are the top alternatives to Bizplan?

The list of top Bizplan alternatives may include:

  • BizPlanBuilder
  • The Business Plan Shop

Business Strategy Hub

  • Search 69744
  • Search 10595
  • Search 1711

Anaplan Competitors and Alternatives Featured Image by Carlos Muza

Top 20 Anaplan Competitors and Alternatives

competitors and alternatives in business plan

Anaplan is a business planning software company based in San Francisco, California. Guy Haddleton, Sue Haddleton, and Michael Gould founded the company in 2006 in Yorkshire, England. In 2013, Anaplan acquired its reseller Vue Analytics for an undisclosed amount. The company introduced its Anaplan Hub marketplace in May 2014 .

Customers use Anaplan Hub to share and find pre-designed planning models. Anaplan went public in October 2018 and started trading on the NYSE. In June 2022, Thoma Bravo acquired Anaplan for $10.4 billion. Anaplan had around 2,000 employees in January 2023 but laid off at least 119 employees at its San Francisco headquarters in June 2023. [ 1 ]

Anaplan provides a planning, forecasting, and performance management platform for finance and FP&A teams. It targets enterprise companies. Most professionals use spreadsheet-centric planning solutions such as MS Excel and Google Sheets , but these tools can’t do everything. Anaplan solves this problem by offering three types of views – worksheets, board pages, and reports .

Users can consolidate finance, accounting, HR, sales, marketing, and revenue data in a single platform. It offers robust features, including scenario planning, in-memory processing, workflows, and a data hub. Over 1,000 organizations use Anaplan’s products. However, the company faces stiff competition from Board, Vena, Prophix, IBM, Jedox, Pigment, Varicent, Planful, Workday, SAP, and Oracle. [ 2 ]

Here is an in-depth analysis of Anaplan’s top competitors and alternatives:

Table of Contents

1. Board International

Year founded:  1994 Headquarter:  Chiasso, Switzerland

Board is a business intelligence (BI) and corporate performance management (CPM) software provider. Its intelligent planning platform helps enterprises discover crucial insights. As of June 2023, Board served over 2,000 organizations.

Board helps organizations unify strategy, finance, and operations using an integrated and intelligent planning solution. The company serves global enterprises, such as H&M , Toyota , Burberry, Coca-Cola , and HSBC. In June 2023, Board launched a new group consolidation and reporting offering . It is part of the Board’s planning platform, accelerating the digital transformation of financial processes. Board is the top Anaplan competitor and alternative. [ 3 ]

We had an amazing time this week at #BoardBeyond Melbourne and Sydney! Our team enjoyed sharing Board's vision for the future of planning and discussing how we can work together to ignite the #IntelligentPlanning revolution. pic.twitter.com/dBGTaqt528 — Board International (@BoardSoftware) September 23, 2023

Year founded:  2011 Headquarter:  Toronto, Canada

Vena is a financial process automation solution provider. Its platform automates performance management, accounting, and budgeting. According to G2, Vena has a 4.5-star rating out of 5 from 199 customer reviews.

Vena uses a spreadsheet platform to connect people, systems, and data to simplify financial planning. However, the main selling point of Vena is its preconfigured templates and reports, Excel add-in, and web portal interface. The platform integrates with several solutions, including NetSuite , Intuit QuickBooks , Sage Intacct, Oracle , SAP , IBM , Salesforce , and Microsoft Dynamics 365. Vena is one of the best alternatives to Anaplan for FP&A teams that prefer an Excel-based environment. [ 4 ]

With #AI here to stay, #finance teams that want to help their business remain competitive & grow 📈 as strategic partners to the rest of their organization need to start educating themselves around its potential. Find out more in our latest blog. ➡️ https://t.co/PdBBrcpjB7 pic.twitter.com/ksTNQGcLzP — Vena Solutions (@venasolutions) October 3, 2023

3. Prophix Software

Year founded:  1987 Headquarter:  Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Prophix is a leading financial performance management platform. It offers CPM, planning, budgeting, and financial reporting software for mid-market companies. As of June 2023, Prophix served over 2,500 clients. The company added over 100 new cloud customers in the first half of 2023. [ 5 ]

The main competitive advantage of Prophix is its financial performance platform, which enhances the talents of finance teams. In February 2023, Prophix was ranked as a Leader in Nucleus Research’s CPM Technology Value Matrix . The company recently enhanced its platform with machine-learning capabilities and pre-built templates and reports. Prophix is one of the best alternatives to Anaplan for CPM software. [ 6 ]

The focus on cost control has pushed revenue growth down the list of priorities this year. Read more via @CFO : https://t.co/zjya1PVcjA — Prophix (@prophix) October 7, 2023

4. IBM Planning Analytics

Year founded:  1911 Headquarter:  Armonk, New York

IBM Planning Analytics is a business planning solution offered by IBM, a leading software developer . It is powered by IBM TM1 and automates your planning, budgeting, forecasting, and analysis processes. In 2022, IBM had around 350,000 employees.

IBM Planning Analytics offers robust spreadsheet functionality to eliminate manual tasks and boost efficiency. However, the main competitive advantage of IBM Planning Analytics is its integration with other IBM solutions . In July 2023, IBM unveiled several improvements and defect fixes for IBM Planning Analytics. IBM Planning Analytics is a formidable competitor for Anaplan. [ 7 ]

The first-ever #IBMTechXchange Conference is in the books. Over 3,000 technologists attended the 4-day event to advance their skills through hands-on experience with the latest IBM technology, #AI thought leadership, and networking events. See you again in 2024! pic.twitter.com/3WMGQLYkej — IBM (@IBM) September 20, 2023

Year founded:  2002 Headquarter:  Freiburg, Germany

Jedox is an adaptable performance management platform . Its analytics solution simplifies planning, budgeting, forecasting, and reporting for finance, sales, HR, and procurement teams. As of April 2023, Jedox served over 2,500 organizations in 140 countries.

Jedox integrates data from different sources and simplifies cross-organizational planning. Teams can plan for opportunities, react to changes, and uncover hidden insights using Jedox. In April 2023, Jedox was named a Global Market Leader in the BARC Score for Integrated Planning & Analytics, making it a worthy alternative to Anaplan. [ 8 ]

Ready to hit ESG targets and effortlessly navigate emerging standards? Join the webinar as experts share best practices for integrating ESG data and mitigating risk. Register here 👇 October 24, 10am EST: https://t.co/fUaxZjyuNC October 24, 10am CEST: https://t.co/UPlN0h9UkQ — Jedox (@Jedox) October 5, 2023

Year founded:  2019 Headquarter:  Paris, France

Pigment is an all-in-one business planning platform. It helps finance and revenue teams plan and forecast business operations in real time, model scenarios, and make informed decisions. In June 2023, Pigment raised $88 million in a Series C funding round. [ 9 ]

Pigment serves innovative companies such as Klarna , Miro, Airtable , Figma, Poshmark , Eventbrite, and Mozilla. Team leaders can use the platform to track quotas and analyze team members’ performance quarterly. The company recently added a new spreadsheet view to attract Excel users. On G2.com, both Pigment and Anaplan are tied with 4.6 stars each. Pigment is one of the best alternatives to Anaplan.

7. Varicent

Year founded:  2003 Headquarter:  Toronto, Canada

Varicent is an award-winning SaaS company that offers sales performance management (SPM) software. Its solutions support companies’ entire revenue journey. In November 2019, Great Hill Partners and Spectrum Equity acquired Varicent from IBM for an undisclosed amount.

Varicent combines SPM technology with an augmented intelligence-powered platform to simplify territory and quota planning, lead-to-revenue operations, and payments. In December 2021, the company enhanced its Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) solution with new data connectors, a report viewer, and refreshed Presenter Adaptive. Varicent is one of the top competitors for Anaplan in the SPM software sector. [ 10 ]

Elevate London was a success! Thank you to our teams, customers, and partners for making yesterday's event the best one yet! 🎉 Up next, Paris! #VaricentElevate pic.twitter.com/yhXcCaWhJQ — Varicent (@ThisIsVaricent) October 6, 2023

Year founded:  2000 Headquarter:  Redwood City, California

Planful is a leading cloud-based EPM application provider. The company was founded as Host Analytics but later rebranded to Planful. According to G2, Planful has a 4.3-star rating from 377 customer reviews.

Planful helps FP&A teams plan, close, and report more efficiently. It offers robust features, including financial planning and consolidation , management reporting, scenario and workforce planning, cash forecasting, and currency conversion. Most of Planful’s users are mid-market companies. Planful is one of the top competitors for Anaplan. [ 11 ]

Read why our Chief Technology Officer, Sanjay Vyas, puts a premium on patents to protect Planful’s intellectual property and give our customers the technology to reach peak financial performance: https://t.co/ZPJJ4tJYIJ pic.twitter.com/XTHJaNyhCg — Planful (@Planful) October 5, 2023

9. Workday Adaptive Planning

Year founded:  2003 Headquarter:  Palo Alto, California

Workday Adaptive Planning is a SaaS company founded as Adaptive Insights. In August 2018, Workday, Inc. acquired Adaptive Insights and rebranded it to Workday Adaptive Planning. The company has around 500 employees.

The main competitive advantage of Workday Adaptive Planning is its link with Workday, a leader in enterprise cloud apps for finance and HR. Over 10,000 organizations, including 50% of Fortune 500 firms, use Workday.

In May 2023, Workday was named a Customers’ Choice in the Gartner Peer Insights for Financial Planning Software. Workday Adaptive Planning is a formidable competitor for Anaplan. [ 12 ]

“We can get information at the touch of a button.” Find out how @CoventryBS improved reporting flexibility: https://t.co/PCjcEFhIo3 #ForAChangingWorld pic.twitter.com/ZWsdKvmlCh — Workday (@Workday) October 6, 2023

10. SAP Analytics Cloud

Year founded:  2015 Headquarter:  Walldorf, Germany

SAP Analytics Cloud is a multi-cloud SaaS solution offered by SAP, a leading software company. It provides planning capabilities, BI, augmented and predictive analytics, and extended planning and analysis in a single platform. In 2022, SAP employed over 110,000 people.

SAP Analytics Cloud combines analytics with integration to SAP apps and seamless access to heterogeneous data sources. In Q2 2023, SAP enhanced SAP Analytics Cloud with new features, including Optimized Story Experience , a data analyzer, and Multi Actions. Teams can now use public REST API to import master data into models. SAP Analytics Cloud is an innovative alternative to Anaplan. [ 13 ]

🍝 What’s the secret sauce that helps sales organizations harness the knowledge of seasoned, time-served sellers and the relationships they've forged with clients? https://t.co/qEZ1Gihe4g #IntelligentSelling #GenAI #guidedselling #engagement — SAP Customer Experience (@SAP_CX) October 5, 2023

Year founded:  1977 Headquarter:  Austin, Texas

Oracle is a multinational computer technology company . It offers Oracle Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) that competes with Anaplan. According to Gartner, Oracle has a 4.5-star rating versus 4.3 stars for Anaplan.

Oracle helps businesses manage customer relationships, human capital, supply chains, and projects. In June 2023, Oracle NetSuite added a new account reconciliation feature to its ERP suite developed on Oracle’s Fusion Cloud EPM platform. The new feature automates the reconciliation process for accounts payable, transactions, prepaid accounts, accruals, and fixed assets accounts. Oracle is one of the top competitors for Anaplan. [ 14 ]

#CloudWorld in under 30 minutes! From the latest healthcare innovations to generative AI and much more, catch up on some of the biggest news: https://t.co/EEwhUmUadN pic.twitter.com/qFJi7Nyz9o — Oracle (@Oracle) October 4, 2023

12. Blue Yonder

Year founded:  1985 Headquarter:  Scottsdale, Arizona

Blue Yonder is a supply chain management company. Panasonic acquired Blue Yonder in 2021 to expand its portfolio. In 2022, Blue Yonder had around 6,000 employees.

Blue Yonder is a leader in digital supply chain and omnichannel commerce fulfillment. Its end-to-end business platform helps retailers, manufacturers, and logistics providers to fulfill customer demand, from planning to delivery.

In Q1 2023, Blue Yonder added 37 new customer logos . The company was featured in ten technology industry analyst reports from Forrester, Gartner, and IDC. Blue Yonder is one of the best alternatives to Anaplan for supply chain management. [ 15 ]

October is LGBTQ+ History Month. For National Coming Out Day, Blue Yonder's Randy Buffon (he/him) shares his story in our DIVE In blog: https://t.co/19jSvmfDKP 🏳️‍🌈 #ComingOutDay #LoveIsLove — Blue Yonder (@BlueYonder) October 4, 2023

13. Kinaxis

Year founded:  1984 Headquarter:  Ottawa, Canada

Kinaxis is a software company that offers supply chain management and sales and operation planning solutions. It helps organizations make informed decisions across integrated business planning and the digital supply chain. In 2022, Kinaxis had over 1,000 employees.

Kinaxis combines human intelligence with AI and concurrent planning to help organizations plan for the future, monitor risks and opportunities, and respond to changes. Its cloud-based platform offers industry-proven applications. In August 2023, FIS selected Kinaxis to enable concurrent planning in its supply chain . Kinaxis is a worthy competitor for Anaplan. [ 16 ]

We’re taking the leap towards a more #sustainable future with 4 ESG commitments: protecting our planet by doing what we do best, taking care of people, giving back, & building trust through integrity. Learn more in our new Global Impact Report: https://t.co/wHP43sAKtp pic.twitter.com/lhhfs1lPP8 — Kinaxis (@Kinaxis) October 6, 2023

14. Logility

Year founded:  1996 Headquarter:  Atlanta, Georgia

Logility is a supply chain management company owned by American Software , Inc. It helps companies seize new opportunities, respond to changing market dynamics, and manage complex global businesses. According to Gartner, Logility has a 4.4-star rating from 163 customer reviews.

Logility’s digital supply chain platform leverages AI and analytics to automate planning, accelerate cycle times, improve operating performance, and enhance visibility. It streamlines sales, operations, and integrated business planning processes. In February 2023, the company was cited among the best retail technology providers in the RIS Software LeaderBoard . Logility is one of the top competitors for Anaplan in the SCM sector. [ 17 ]

Introducing InventoryAI+! Building on existing AI capabilities, InventoryAI+ improves insights with enhanced AI and a fresh user experience that empowers planners to resolve issues in real-time and achieve higher levels of supply chain performance.  https://t.co/XG8YaenLKO pic.twitter.com/Aoj0xDoOBv — Logility, Inc. (@logilityinc) September 28, 2023

Year founded:  2000 Headquarter:  Austin, Texas

e2open is a business-to-business cloud-based supply chain software provider. It helps the world’s largest companies transform how they make, move, and sell products and services. In May 2023, e2open connected over 420,000 manufacturing, logistics, channel, and distribution partners.

The main competitive advantage of e2open is its unified multi-enterprise network, which tracks over 13 billion transactions annually. In Q4 2023, one of the world’s largest CPG companies adopted e2open’s Supply Application Suite to manage the inbound order cycle. The firm introduced enhancements across its platform to boost performance and productivity and cut costs for clients. e2open is a worthy alternative to Anaplan. [ 18 ]

Exciting things are happening at Wesccon! Join us for transformative workshops, panels, roundtable discussions, and town hall meetings on timely topics. Register now: https://t.co/i6GlakH9Sa pic.twitter.com/EuItdsaB89 — e2open (@e2open) October 6, 2023

16. o9 Solutions

Year founded:  2009 Headquarter:  Dallas, Texas

o9 Solutions is a leading cloud-based business management platform. It uses a graph database, in-memory, and AI to simplify supply chain planning. In January 2022, o9 Solutions was valued at $2.7 billion .

o9 Solutions pioneered the use of the graph database for supply chain planning. In 2022, o9 Solutions reported an 84% increase in annual recurring revenue . The company has seen tremendous growth in the last four years. o9 Solutions is one of the fastest-growing competitors for Anaplan. [ 19 ]

We are very excited to share that our latest news about our most recent #investment round with existing investors, led by @generalatlantic 's #BeyondNetZero venture with participation from KKR and Generation Investment Management. #o9solutions   https://t.co/HdEIouLOnM — o9 Solutions, Inc. (@o9solutions) July 19, 2023

17. Blue Ridge

Year founded:  2007 Headquarter:  Atlanta, Georgia

Blue Ridge is a supply chain management solution provider. It offers a comprehensive and easy-to-use software suite. In 2023, Blue Ridge was recognized in seven G2 Best Software categories. The company was named a leader in Supply Chain and Demand Planning . [ 20 ]

Blue Ridge uses a data-driven and AI-powered approach to help businesses optimize demand planning and inventory management. Organizations can achieve positive ROI in six months using Blue Ridge’s software. Blue Ridge is one of the best alternatives to Anaplan for supply chain management. [ 21 ]

30 years of integral excellence backed by a strong desire to achieve extraordinary feats is what has made Paranjape Schemes what it is now. We strive to create happy and vibrant communities that are crafted with magnificent architecture and convenient facilities #paranjapeschemes pic.twitter.com/pUUvATdpeh — PSCL (@paranjapescheme) August 10, 2021

18. Coupa Software

Year founded:  2006 Headquarter:  San Mateo, California

Coupa Software is a tech company that offers a business spend management platform. Its cloud-based solution unifies supply chain, procurement, and finance processes. In 2022, Coupa had 3,076 employees.

Coupa helps organizations maximize value and operationalize purpose through their business spend. In July 2023, Coupa was positioned in the Leaders Category in the enterprise and mid-market IDC MarketScape. The platform was recognized for providing end-to-end visibility. Coupa is a worthy alternative to Anaplan for business spend management. [ 22 ]

Discover the secrets of pallet sourcing and learn how to maximize cost efficiency. 💰📦 https://t.co/FsaQtdOVRu — Coupa Software (@Coupa) October 2, 2023

19. ToolsGroup

Year founded:  1993 Headquarter:  Boston, Massachusetts

ToolsGroup is a retail and supply chain planning software provider. Its AI-powered solutions help manufacturers, distributors, and retailers navigate supply chain uncertainties. According to Gartner, ToolsGroup has a 4.5-star rating from 106 customer reviews. The platform serves over 400 customers in 45 countries .

The ToolsGroup SO99 platform helps planners and businesses meet customer service needs. In July 2023, ToolsGroup added Dynamic Fulfillment to its JustEnough retail planning and execution suite. This new feature enhances retailers’ OMS with an optimized fulfillment plan to reduce costs, improve profits, and boost customer satisfaction. ToolsGroup is an emerging competitor for Anaplan. [ 23 ]

#SupplyChain has progressed from a supply-focused approach to the demand-driven supply chain paradigm. Now it's time for the next evolution towards the service-driven supply chain: https://t.co/yzLye3fbaK #toolsgroup #AI #digitaltransformation — ToolsGroup (@ToolsGroup) August 1, 2023

20. Microsoft

Year founded:  1975 Headquarter:  Redmond, Washington

Microsoft is a technology corporation specializing in hardware, software, and services. The company offers the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform, which competes against Anaplan. In 2022, Microsoft employed over 180,000 people.

Microsoft launched the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform in November 2022. The solution helps organizations maximize supply chain investments by leveraging Microsoft AI , low code, collaboration, security , and SaaS applications.

However, the main competitive advantage of Microsoft’s Supply Chain Platform is its integration with Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Teams. Microsoft has enough resources to compete and poach some customers from Anaplan. [ 24 ]

 References & more information

  • Barrabi, T. (2023, Jun 23). Software giant Anaplan begins layoffs after Thoma Bravo’s $10.4B buyout deal . The New York Post
  • Ballinger, J. (2023, Jul 14). What is Anaplan? Reviews, pros, cons, and alternatives . Cube Software
  • Board International (2023, Jun 29). Board Launches All-New Group Consolidation and Reporting Solution . Board.com
  • Bullis, J. (2023, Jul 20). Vena reviews: How does Vena Solutions compare to the alternatives ? CubeSoftware.com
  • Prophix (2023, Jun 20). Prophix Shares Midyear Update: New Global Customers and Advances to Financial Performance Platform Position Company for Strong 2023 Performance . PRNewswire
  • Prophix (2023, Feb 8). Prophix Recognized as a Leader in the 2023 Nucleus Research CPM Technology Value Matrix . PRNewswire
  • IBM Staff (2023, Jul 11). What’s new in IBM Planning Analytics ? IBM.com
  • Jedox (2023, Apr 14). Jedox is named Global Market Leader by BARC in Integrated Planning & Analytics for the Third Year in a Row . Kron4
  • Dillet, R. (2023, Jun 8). Pigment secures $88 million for its business planning tool that will make you forget about Excel . TechCrunch
  • Varicent (2021, Dec 9). Varicent Unveils Major Enhancements for Its Industry-Leading ICM Solution . Business Wire
  • Ballinger, J. (2023, Jul 14). Planful reviews: what is Planful ? CubeSoftware.com
  • Workday Inc. (2023, May 31). Workday is recognized as a 2023 Gartner® Peer Insights™ Customers’ Choice for Financial Planning Software . PRNewswire
  • Cullen, O. (2023, Jun 29). SAP Analytics Cloud release for Q2 2023 Roundup . SAP.com
  • Ghoshal, A. (2023, Jun 14). NetSuite ERP gets an account reconciliation feature from Oracle Fusion Cloud EPM . CIO
  • Blue Yonder Holding, Inc. (2023, May 3). Blue Yonder Showcases Revolutionary Company Vision at ICON 2023 . Business Wire
  • Kinaxis Inc. (2023, Aug 22). Fabbrica Italiana Sintetici (FIS) Selects Kinaxis for Supply Chain Planning . Silicon Canals
  • Logility, Inc. (2023, Feb 27). Logility Shines in Retail Technology, according to the 2023 RIS Software LeaderBoard Report . Business Wire
  • E2open Parent Holdings, Inc. (2023, May 1). E2open Announces Fiscal 2023 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Financial Results . Business Wire
  • Banker, S. (2023, Mar 5). Why is o9 Solutions Growing So Fast ? Forbes
  • BRG Staff (2023, May 30). Blue Ridge Tops the Ranks in G2’s Best Software Awards for 2023 ! Blue Ridge Global
  • Blue Ridge (2023, Aug 1). Impressive Q2 2023 customer results using Blue Ridge’s Software for Demand Planning, Replenishment, and Inventory Optimization . Business Wire
  • Coupa Software (2023, Jul 24). Coupa Named a Leader in IDC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Mid-Market Treasury and Risk Management Applications 2023 Vendor Assessment . PRNewswire
  • ToolsGroup (2023, Jul 13). ToolsGroup Launches Dynamic Fulfillment for Real-Time Order Fulfillment Optimization . News Direct
  • Lamanna, C. (2022, Nov 14). Introducing the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform, a new approach to designing supply chains for agility, automation, and sustainability . Microsoft.com
  • Featured Image by Carlos Muza

 Tell us what you think? Did you find this article interesting? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

competitors and alternatives in business plan

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How to Identify Alternative Plans in a Strategic Marketing Plan

by Brian Hill

Published on 1 Jan 2021

During the annual strategic planning process, a small-business owner’s goal is to identify the strategies that give his company the greatest chance of success, as measured by revenue growth and meeting the challenges presented by the business environment, including competitors. He must choose from among alternative strategies. To make these choices, he gathers and analyzes information about the business environment and selects the best future course for his company. Strategic planning is a creative process. He wants to identify strategies that are innovative and one step ahead of the strategies competitors are implementing.

Study Competitors’ Strategies

Take a look at the strategies your competitors are using and how successful they have been. In every industry and market niche, there are companies that are winners -- and an important reason is the success of their marketing strategies. For example, a business owner who sees that the strongest competitors emphasize social media to generate customer leads should determine whether her own social media strategy is effective. She may have to change the methods she uses, such as developing and promoting a blog to establish herself as an industry expert in the eyes of customer prospects.

Evaluate Strategic Success

Developing a new marketing plan requires evaluating what strategies worked well in the previous year’s plan. The business owner can discard strategies that did not work well or retool them. For example, if your Internet advertising campaign was not effective, you could shift these dollars to print advertising instead. Or you could change the keywords used in the ads to better reach the company’s target customers.

Consider Available Resources

A small business’s marketing budget is limited, and it is critical that every strategy implemented has the potential to generate greater revenues than the year before. When preparing a strategic plan, look at the previous year’s marketing expenditures -- and marketing staff levels -- to whether you can afford to increase them and by how much. Identifying alternative plans involves making difficult choices about what the company can afford to do. It is likely you will identify more strategies with great potential than you have the resources to implement.

Strategic and Tactical Experimentation

Part of the growth process for a small business is the evolution of the company’s marketing strategy. The company’s target markets, distribution channels and marketing message all change over time. Keeping the company growing at a fast pace requires strategic experimentation -- trying different strategies and action plans than the company used in the past. Not all of these experiments will be successful. You limit the risk associated with new strategies by implementing them cautiously. For example, a strategy to market in three additional states could be implemented one state at a time, and one city at a time in each state. If the initial market expansion efforts pay off, you can accelerate the timetable.

Set Growth Objectives

The long-term vision you have for your company shapes the strategic plan alternatives you consider. If you believe it is imperative to grow rapidly and capture market dominance before competitors are able to, the strategies you consider may be different than an owner who seeks steady but slower growth. In the first case, you may have to implement a large-scale advertising campaign, which may require obtaining additional capital to implement. The slower-growth path could emphasize building the business through word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers, while paying for the marketing program with internally generated cash.

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competitors and alternatives in business plan

The Best Calendly Alternatives

If you’re still using Outlook calendar, then scheduling setting software can help you streamline your meeting management. Appointment setting software makes it easy for you to book in-person and virtual meetings with both internal teammates and external customers. While Calendly is currently the leading software in the appointment scheduling space. There are some worthy alternatives…

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competitors and alternatives in business plan

If you’re still using Outlook calendar, then scheduling setting software can help you streamline your meeting management. Appointment setting software makes it easy for you to book in-person and virtual meetings with both internal teammates and external customers. While Calendly is currently the leading software in the appointment scheduling space.

There are some worthy alternatives that also deserve your attention:

5 Top Calendly alternatives

While Calendly is a great appointment setting software option, all those features do command a higher price, and if you don’t need such robust functionality, then it might not be worth it for your company. Here are the Calendly alternatives you should consider.

Chili Piper: Best for CRM integrations

This memorably named service focuses on a subset of the appointment scheduling market: sales and CS reps . If you constantly book meetings with customers and potential customers, then you will appreciate Chili Piper’s ability to book meetings instantly from your inbox, automatically create leads in your CRM software , and integrate easily with Salesforce and HubSpot.

There is a free plan available as well as two paid tiers: Spicy and Hot. You need to get one of the paid subscriptions to unlock most of the CRM-specific features, but if you just want to book meetings, then the free tier should be sufficient. Chili Piper’s focus on CRM will also be less helpful if you aren’t a sales or CS rep, so if you work in a different department, then another option on this list might be a better fit for you.

Why we chose Chili Piper

We included Chili Piper here because of its robust CRM integrations. There is a free plan available as well as two paid tiers: Spicy and Hot. You need to get one of the paid subscriptions to unlock most of the CRM-specific features, but if you just want to book meetings, then the free tier should be sufficient.

HubSpot Sales Hub: Best for functionality

Did you know that HubSpot offers a meeting scheduling tool? In fact, it’s part of the HubSpot’s free limited service plan. With the free version, you can book meetings automatically, embed your calendar in your website or email, and sync meeting details to contacts in your CRM. Premium accounts get additional functionality, starting with the Starter plan.

It is expensive compared to the other starter plans on this list; however, you do have to remember that HubSpot offers a lot of other tools including marketing, CMS, and operations in addition to the appointment scheduling. But if HubSpot’s features are too robust for your needs, then you can choose from the other more affordable options on this list.

Why we chose HubSpot Sales Hub

We chose HubSpot Sales Hub because of its integration within the HubSpot suite of applications. If you need all that functionality, then HubSpot is a great all-in-one package—and if you already have HubSpot, then you have access to that appointment setting feature.

Acuity Scheduling: Best for multiple industries

Acuity Scheduling is designed to help customers seamlessly book appointments with service providers like salons, doctors, and more. It syncs your calendars, processes online payments, and automatically sends appointment reminders to clients.

However, it does not have a free tier, and it has only a seven-day free trial. After that, choose from the Emerging Plan, the Growing Plan, or the Powerhouse Plan. Each supports a different number of staff or locations: 1 person or location for the Emerging Plan, 6 for the Growing Plan, and 36 for the Powerhouse.

Why we chose Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling won’t work for every business due to its focus on service providers, but if that describes your company, then you should definitely look into this option. We included them because of that cross-functionality between industries. Acuity offers a substantial selection of reporting and scheduling features that work for specific industries.

10to8: Best for plan diversity

If you are a small business looking for a free appointment scheduling option, then 10to8 might fit the (nonexistent) bill. The service’s entry-level free tier offers up to 100 appointments a month for two staff members working at one location.

You can have an unlimited number of clients and services and 10to8 will allow two-way client chat, even on the free tier. Users say that the service can be a bit time-consuming to set up on the front end, and all support is done via email, which can sometimes make issues more difficult to resolve. 10to8 also doesn’t offer a lot of CRM functionality, though integrations are available. However, if you’re a small business that needs a free appointment scheduling software that goes behind the very basic, then you should check out 10to8.

Why we chose 10to8

We decided to include 10to8 because of the variance between its plans. That diversity allows a user to really dial in which set of features will work best for your specific needs. For more features, such as customizable branding, more staff members and appointments, and multiple bookings pages, you can get the Basic plan, the Grow plan, or the Bigger Business plan.

Doodle: Best for simplicity

If you are mostly looking for a tool that will help you book meetings between groups of people at your company, then you can’t go wrong with Doodle. This simple software automatically adjusts for time zones and offers numerous ways to schedule events—for instance, you can poll people on the best day or time to meet or let them pick from what times you choose to make available.

Doodle offers a free Doodle poll creator as well as two premium levels, a Pro account and a Team account that can handle up to 5 users. While Doodle doesn’t offer as many features as the other software listed here, that is reflected in its affordable price tag, making it a good option for people looking for a stripped-down scheduling tool without a lot of extras.

Why we chose Doodle

We chose Doodle because we wanted a simple scheduling solution and it does that well. It’s ability to easily gather times that work for multiple team members, recognize time zone conflicts, and other automation capabilities take the time consuming guess work out of scheduling.

What is appointment setting software?

Appointment setting software—also called appointment scheduling solutions, appointment booking systems, and appointment management software—make it easy for companies to manage appointments, meetings, and client bookings.

The software syncs with your calendar to automatically show when you’re available and allows you to easily book between teams or departments. It also allows people outside your organization to cancel or move appointments without waiting for the owner of the calendar event to make the change.

What is Calendly?

Calendly is perhaps the best-known option in the appointment setting software space. It allows you to set your availability and syncs all your calendars in one place, which is beneficial for people who have their work calendar in Outlook and their personal calendar in Gmail, for instance.

You can use Calendly to book meetings internally within your organization, or you can use it to schedule times with people outside your company, such as potential or current customers. Send your contact a link, and they will see a real-time calendar of your availability and can choose a time that works for them.

Calendly also integrates with many different services to allow you to automate meeting tasks that you would have to perform manually with a typical email calendar client. For example, a  Zoom integration will automatically create video calls for virtual meetings, while the Stripe integration lets you take payments during the meeting.

There are many different integrations available covering a wide variety of categories from CRM to analytics. If you need a particular integration, the Calendly website has an up-to-date list allowing you to browse them all to see if they will suit your needs.

Calendly has three levels of pricing: free, premium, and pro. Many of its features are only available on the paid plans, and plenty of the most helpful ones—including the HubSpot and Salesforce integrations—are only available on the most expensive pro plan, so bear that in mind when considering Calendly.

Find the right Calendly alternative for you

If these options aren’t quite what you need, TechnologyAdvice can help you find the right Calendly alternatives. Check out our Scheduling Software Guide to discover other popular options.

Methodology

At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. For our Calendly Alternatives list, we looked at more than 27 options before whittling them down to the five that cover many scheduling needs for startups all the way up to enterprise businesses. We considered factors such as automations, ease of use, cost, and more, in making our selections.

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