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Know Your Competition

Here's how to get the goods on your competitors and stay one step ahead.

This story appears in the April 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Cindy Rice clearly remembers the first time she realized International Brownie, her mail order gourmet brownie business, had competition. Walking through Boston's Faneuil Hall, a restored historic area and shopping district, she noticed a retail store selling trays of gourmet brownies. "I said, `Oh my Gosh! This is exactly what I'm doing!' " recalls Rice.

Now, two years later, Rice says she realizes that competition is a fact of business life. "Actually, competition is good for me," she says. "It keeps me on my toes and reminds me that I can't slack off. I have to provide really good customer service and a unique product." To make sure she's ahead of her competition, Rice periodically orders from her competitors and compares their packaging, service and quality to her own.

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