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If you run a business then you’re aware there are lots of different forces acting on it – factors that you have to account for in your plans, factors that mean you can’t simply do whatever you most want.

Today we’re taking a look at what those factors are, how you can plan around them, and why you need to if you want to run a successful business in the long term.

The Competition

One of the most important influences on your decision-making is the competition – the other businesses operating in your space, both geographical and notional.

Some kinds of competition are more relevant than others – if you’re delivering a physical service, like haircutting or dog grooming, then your most important, and indeed only relevant, competitors are those in your immediate physical vicinity. If you’re offering services – like marketing or accountancy – or retail, then the internet makes competition stretch to encompass at least the country, if not the world.

If you’re trying to account for the competition it’s worth commissioning a competitor benchmarking study from specialist analysts. This identifies the competitors you need to worry about – near and far – and ranks them (and you) so you can see where you stand in the ecosystem of your industry.

Costs

Recent news has been filled with talk of rising costs – hikes in National Insurance, rises in the cost of food, and historic surges in the price of fuel and electricity – and with global disruption ongoing, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

All of these are things you’ll need to consider when you’re making plans for your business. If you’re expanding to a new location, the cost of simply lighting and heating the place is newly a concern. When you’re looking at wages, what constitutes a fair wage may be up for debate when the cost of living is on the front page of all the major papers once a week.

What Do Your Customers Want?

The most important factor you need to account for is what your customers want. If you’re not in touch with their evolving needs and tastes then you could find yourself in serious trouble. This is not a laurel on which to rest – one successful product doesn’t mean you can rely on your instincts to tell what customers want, when they want and perhaps most importantly, how much they’re prepared to pay so you need to make this area the subject of active research.

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