You may have already noticed: other companies like to check out their competition, and if your business has become a rising star, you may be getting the eye from small and large businesses alike. This means that sometimes, someone launches your brilliant idea before you have a chance to launch it yourself. While imitation is the highest form of flattery, you can do more than just be flattered – you can learn a few lessons and be quickest to the draw next time.

Move Quickly, Launch Often

You’re a small business. That means that getting a product in and out of trial shouldn’t be nearly as hard as it would be for a large business. Something has to pass through so many hands before it’s approved for a large business, and that’s not true for companies that have a more concentrated staff. Refining an idea or a product and launching it as soon as possible is your first goal. Your second is to implement big, strong changes to make it a better product for your customers as fast as possible. Respond to customer feedback and make adjustments quickly. A big company has more to risk and is often much slower at improving something than you are.

Listen to Your Customers

Are a dozen or more of your clients saying something doesn’t work, or it could work better if you tweaked it just a bit? Do more than listen – implement. Change your product quickly to suit those who are the backbone of your company. This particular aspect of business is often frustrating with bigger companies – you wind up on hold or talking to a robot about your needs more often than a person. Change that, and make sure your response to customers is swift and appropriate.

Quality, Quality, Quality

While no one expects your first version of something to be the best, that doesn’t mean the product you put out there should be garbage. If you’re not putting some serious effort into the product you’d like to market to your client, then how can you expect anyone to stick with it?

Don’t be terrified when a bigger player enters your field. Listen well, launch swiftly, and put quality in front of all else – these are the things that will make you stand out and help you carve your own little notch into your niche.