How to Defend Against Challenges and Attacks on Your Business
Everyone can agree that no matter what type of business you own or want to start, growing it is tough. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when starting a new business, like managing inventory levels for ecommerce or even knowing who your customers actually are.
Besides figuring out how to nurture sustainable business growth, dangers are lurking beyond the surface of the expected challenges that small businesses face. Sometimes, the greatest threats are attacks from competitors swimming in the same ocean. Instead of taking their fair share, some companies might attack your brand to take over your territory.
If a competitor attacked your brand, would you know how to protect yourself and live to tell the tale?
Attacks against your business come in all shapes and sizes. We’ll go through how you can prevent yourself from falling foul of any tricks that undermine your brand.
Defend the Gates: 3 Ways Competitors Could Attack Your Brand
Competitors may undermine your brand in different ways so they can leapfrog ahead of you. At worst, they might try to outright steal your intellectual property to claim the entire market share for themselves.
It can feel so unfair when larger brands swoop in and sabotage everything you’ve done, after all the sweat and tears you poured into building your own business with limited resources.
But there’s good news for small business owners, or if you’re finally getting some traction in scaling your digital asset. Learning what these attacks look like can help you prepare to mitigate any damage, so you can focus on building your brand.
It’s natural for any business owner to keep a close eye on market prices to see how to position products, as research shows that pricing affects buying decisions regardless of consumers’ background, age, or gender.
Sometimes, a competitor will engage in a price war with you by matching or going below what you’ve listed as the RRP, just to entice customers to buy from their storefront, even when it comes to a net loss for their finances.
Once you notice this move from your competitors, it can feel like they put the gauntlet at your feet, expecting you to pick it up. While it’s tempting to go toe-to-toe in a back-and-forth exchange of who-can-go-lower of sales price, you need to consider a few things.
For one, lowering your prices will affect your profit margin. Unless you’ve sustainably lowered your expenses, dropping your sales price also decreases your bottom line. Overall, the business’s finances will take a hit it might not recover from.
Furthermore, your brand’s unique selling point may not be the same as a competitor’s selling point, and it might not make sense to drop the price. If your brand is acknowledged by customers as high quality and with more features, you could be greatly underselling your products by trying to price-match.
Instead of lowering your prices, consider increasing your sales by investing in different marketing channels or improving your customer service. You could increase the number of sales at the same price point, making more than what you spent investing the money in marketing. It’s easier to nurture brand loyalty and gain new customers who appreciate your brand’s value at the original price point than to attract customers looking for the cheapest solution.
Engaging in a price war is a high-risk, low-reward scenario; it is a short-term measure. There might be a time to lower prices, such as during peak seasons or if you’re trying to promote a new cross-selling bundle package, but follow your own pace instead of being led by your competitors. Protect yourself by thinking of the bigger picture and by not getting sucked into a price-matching war, no matter how tempting it might seem to respond.
Some competitors employ a sneaky tactic of damaging your site’s SEO to damage your domain’s authenticity and trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines.
This tactic is known as negative SEO. While it’s largely looked down upon due to its unethical nature, some people still go this route to gain a competitive advantage. If they can’t beat you at the fair game, they’ll play dirty to pull you down and overtake you while you’re down.
Common negative SEO tactics include directing many low-quality backlinks (aka spam backlinks) to your domain or filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) plagiarism claim to take down your content after it’s been plagiarized.
Then, you have to take caution against people not only plagiarizing your content but also claiming that you copied their stuff in the first place by filing a DMCA claim (shameless, we know!).
Instead of thinking about how to fix these problems, it’s better to create a deep moat around your business from the very beginning. A successful negative SEO attack will cause your traffic to nosedive and your business to be penalized by search engines. By that point, the damage has been done, and it’ll be too late to recoup your losses.
Many low-quality backlinks directed to your domain can cause search-engine algorithms to question your domain’s trustworthiness. In the worst-case scenario, your site can be removed from search queries.
Start by monitoring your backlink profile using tools such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Moz. You can do a deep dive into the backlinks referring to your site. If you’re seeing many links with a low domain ranking, irrelevant content about your site, and a poorly optimized interface over a short space of time, this could indicate that a negative SEO attack is taking place.
But don’t fret! Note these suspected spam backlinks in a document, and disavow them using the Google Disavow tool. This tells Google that you don’t want to be associated with those backlinks and protects you from suffering any link-based penalties because of negative SEO.
Filing a DMCA Claim
To protect yourself from DMCA claims, it’s worth running your content through Copyscape to check if anyone has recently plagiarized your articles. While time-consuming, it’s worth performing these checks regularly. If you find that someone has copied your blog content, you can ask this person to take it down. If they fail to comply with your request, you can file a DMCA claim and provide proof that you created the original content.
If you feel that you don’t have the time to run Copyscape checks regularly, outsource this task to a VA as part of his or her daily or weekly tasks. This could save you hours of headache due to fighting to get your content reinstated.
Since your business is stored in the Cloud, building high walls will help you bulletproof your business and make it much harder to hack.
Consider using a password manager, such as LastPass or Keeper, to store your passwords. These tools add a further layer of protection via the option of generating complex strings as passwords so you can avoid reusing the same ones for important logins.
Consider other best practices, such as choosing the most secure web hosting provider, activating secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates, and enabling two-factor authentication. Ecommerce businesses can benefit from additional security layers, such as ensuring you have PCI DSS for payment processing protection. Check out this guide on how to secure your online business and increase its valuation with beefier protection.
Outside of direct attacks from competitors, you’ll need to build resilience from within the business against common challenges that all entrepreneurs face in today’s day and age.
Common Business Challenges
Without trying to raise panic levels through the roof (we really don’t need help to do this!), it’s worth taking these issues seriously and baking regular checks or protocols so you can detect these attacks early.
External attacks aside, there’s the matter of riding through the major challenges that all entrepreneurs face when growing an online business. With enough time, perseverance, and an agile attitude, you can overcome these common challenges businesses face today.
Don’t take our word for it. Make sure you read how these ecommerce entrepreneurs overcame challenges to build a million-dollar asset!
The key takeaway from this data-driven study is that there’s always a solution. What’s important is that you’re aware of the problem before it gets too big to tackle. Let’s have a look at some of these challenges.
If you’re interested in buying a business, cut down the time required to search for the right deal by downloading a free due diligence checklist.
Poor Conversion Rates on Marketing Efforts
You might be tempted to experiment with different types of marketing like social media or email marketing. Diversifying your marketing channels is a great way to mitigate the risk of a primary traffic source drying up, which can result in lost revenue. But your marketing efforts will be wasted if the conversion rates are low.
To avoid hemorrhaging money through poorly performing marketing campaign-shaped holes, consider outsourcing your marketing to specialists, especially PPC experts.
If you want to channel time and energy into a low-risk and high-reward type of marketing, learning how to increase your business’s organic reach could pay dividends. Whether it’s in the form of blog content or social media posts, a larger organic reach helps to establish your expertise in your chosen niche; it gives more value to your target audience when you create helpful content that teaches them how to be better in a skill or learn more about the niche.
Alternatively, you might want to step back and limit the number of marketing channels you’re trying to grow at the same time. If you’re seeing mixed results across all the campaigns and you’re not sure about which direction to head, rethink your marketing strategy and focus on a single channel. Once you’ve stabilized a marketing approach, you can think about growing another traffic channel.
Hiring the Wrong Staff
Hiring competent employees is one of the biggest challenges that a business faces.
After all, getting the right talent on board doesn’t always mean top talent.
Even if on paper someone has all the skills, he or she might not be a good fit for the company if his or her values aren’t aligned with the company culture. Take time to find out what their views are about certain areas that are particularly important to your company’s DNA.
With remote working becoming the norm, it’s even more important to have staff with problem-solving skills so that they feel confident in facing new challenges when they arise. As you’re scaling the brand, if you’re hiring senior staff who will run entire areas of the company in your stead, you’ll want to be able to delegate business-critical tasks with high confidence.
Every company’s hiring process is different, but consider tailoring your interview questions to fit your needs. Avoid generic questions that many people use for similar job descriptions, and focus more on what types of skills you need for that hire to have so he or she can have an immediate impact.
A strong brand bolsters your company from the inside and wards off attacks from the outside. When you have a brand with a great reputation, it’s easier to accelerate the flywheel effect to grow your business.
Start with your customer experience. Interview your customers to understand their perspectives on the customer journey. How did they discover your brand? What made them go with your product, or why did they choose a competitor’s product? Once you have enough data, you can optimize your operations to deliver an outstanding experience.
Tighten your customer service so customers will feel supported and empowered in knowing that even if their product is not working, you’ll actively try to minimize any downtime. Great customer service wins over customers and turns bad reviews into great ones, which further strengthens your brand as one that cares about its customer base.
If you’re struggling to acquire more customers, consider running giveaways and competitions (as long as you’re complying with the terms and services of whatever platform your business is hosted on).
Hosting a competition is a great way to humanize your brand, which has been shown to improve a customer’s impression of a business.
These are ways to engage with potential leads, but your goal is about long-term brand awareness and staying top-of-mind rather than winning people with short-term measures. If you continue to vary how you engage with your customers, it’ll be easier to engage with them in a variety of marketing approaches and provide support when something goes wrong during the buying process.
Cash Flow Management
Your online business is a potentially great cash flow investment for savvy buyers. But before you think about selling your business, you need to make sure your cash flow is in order.
Keeping profit margins high while expenses low sounds easier than it is to do, especially for ecommerce businesses with many moving parts to manage. In fact, entrepreneurs in our data-driven study indicated that cash flow management is one of the biggest hurdles they face while growing their businesses.
The issue with business growth is keeping pace with growth, which requires capital investment. As the business expands, you need to hire more staff to manage different processes or increase your minimum order volume so that you don’t run out of stock for your online store.
Having a business plan as a roadmap gives you a rough idea of how to prepare for growth spurts and provides guidelines on how you can take your business to the next level.
Effectively Managing Your Team
Many online businesses hire globally distributed teams. Managing the team effectively will depend on your time management skills and the software you use to collaborate with your team members.
Consider creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) so that all team members understand their tasks and responsibilities. This eliminates confusion from the workflow, which can be critical to optimizing operations when people work in wildly different time zones.
Keep track of workflows and project updates by investing in collaboration tools. The right software can automate processes for increased productivity, meaning less time spent on tasks and more time spent expanding your business.
Build a Moat to Protect Your Castle
The key to defending your business is building a moat. By implementing more of the above solutions, you deepen the moat, so it’s harder for your competitors to undermine your brand by attacking your marketing efforts or outright copying some of your features.
Building an online business takes time and much trial and error. Instead of going through the startup phase, when you’re trying to figure out what works, navigating the sea of competition, and fending off attacks, you could buy a steady ecommerce business that’s weathered storms and earned its stripes as a reputable brand. Start browsing for the right business for you by registering on our marketplace for free today.
When you acquire a profitable asset, you can focus on running it as a cash flow investment, providing you with a new stream of income. Keep in mind that, as the business grows, its value grows, and you could resell the business for a profit further down the line.
Whether you start a business from scratch or purchase one that is already generating profit, remember to take precautions to beef up the business’s security before attacks can happen: better to be safe than sorry.