(First in a series on developing competitive research skills)
One of the pieces of a business plan that is often not given enough attention is competitive research, yet fully understanding the competitive environment is key to the decisions you will make to be successful.
The first thing to understand about competitive research is that it is not a one-time thing done to fill out a business plan. Competitive research must be an ongoing activity as your business starts up, develops and grows.
This is especially true in an industry such as MedTech, where the speed of innovation is continuously changing the competitive landscape. As an example of what happens when a successful business loses sight of what the competition is doing, consider the case of Blackberry.
The next thing to consider about competitive research is who should do it. Should you develop the talent in-house or hire a consultant. The answer depends on you, and may be counter-intuitive.
If you are starting your company after working for many years in the industry, and you already know the competitors and the state-of-the-art of the technology, you might think you have the expertise to do the competitive research in-house.
Actually, an experienced entrepreneur might benefit from an outside consultant. Getting fresh perspective from a consultant involved in advising others in your industry can broaden and deepen your own understanding of your competitors and provide insights you cannot get from your vantage point.
If, on the other hand, you are a physician or other clinical professional entering medtech from seeing the need for a medical device, and don’t have extensive experience in the industry, it may be beneficial to conduct competitive research in-house. Doing so will give you two important benefits. You will gain a better understanding of the business and the key factors driving the industry you are competing in.
Then as your business grows, and it becomes viable, your in-house expertise will be in a better position to benefit from hiring a consultant to broaden and deepen your knowledge of the competition. You will have gained the knowledge to clearly articulate what you need to know from your consultant and be better able to evaluate the information the consultant provides.
Kapstone has the broad medical device industry expertise and the experience to help you develop your in-house competitive research capability, or provide you with the outside perspective you need for the robust, ongoing competitive research you need to remain competitive.
(Next up: Creating a framework for conducting competitive research)