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Lesson Seven -
Keeping Current on Competition and New Markets

Lesson Goals

To Develop a Personal Strategy for Learning From Your Competition

To Develop a Strategy to Identify New Markets and Products

Strategies for Community Programs to Grow Your Local Market

To Establish a Strategy for a Local Online Community and Collaboration Plan


Learn to Monitor Your Competition Regularly

If you're in a rural area but have access to the Internet there's no reason you can't be as informed as someone in a big city. But, you have to be proactive and get out and about to see how others are succeeding. In your own community there may be innovations and successful web entrepreneurs that you don't know about. In this lesson you'll explore how to identify local web Ecommerce successes and opportunities.

As you may appreciate, most rural people are not Internet wizards like you. A business opportunity might be for you to show others how you can help them get their business online, or learn how similar businesses are using the web.

Searching for What Is Already Working

As people grow more comfortable using the Internet, new markets for products and services will naturally emerge. While many businesses are spending huge amounts of money on research, collecting resources, and building web-based collaborative tools and strategies, you will be able to directly benefit by simply reviewing their best online strategies. However secretive they might be initially, at some point they will have to present their best strategies on the web. Ecommerce businesses monitor each other carefully. They are alert to borrow ideas that are just beginning to demonstrate a positive return.

Online Collaboration as a Strategy

There are many websites which focus on providing current market research. Many offer listservs focused on sharing strategies for specific market clusters. If wood products, for example, is your niche, you need to identify with whom you can collaborate to share co-marketing solutions and news on trends. Cisco Systems calls this "coop-etition" to differentiate from the traditional forms of industrial age competition. For example, Big Sky Carvers produce carved wooden ducks for an international market, and have partnered with other producers to expand their marketing impact. http://www.bigskycarvers.com/

Today, the time required to go from an idea to a marketable product is dramatically shorter than it has ever been. Online collaboration, computer-based manufacturing, and the advantage of being first-to-market have accelerated your competition's ability to move quickly. Your own ability to work smarter and faster is not as dependent on your ability to invest large sums of money as much as it is to adopt new business behaviors and practices. This is a big advantage for rural entrepreneurs. Thinking "outside the box" is a cliche well worth emulating. The global economy is being increasingly driven by the proliferation and sharing of new knowledge, the generation of new ideas, and facilitation of effective collaborations.

Your own personal strategy should be regularly to review your competition locally, regionally, and globally to borrow their innovative strategies.

Developing Community Collaborative Capacity

The more we learn to leverage the efficiencies of online collaboration, the more powerful this new collaborative capacity becomes. Community programs which raise local awareness about the best applications of collaborative tools can also grow a local market for a wide range of new products and services. As geographical communities, or as virtual communities of interest, we have the opportunity for developing profoundly powerful local and global collaborative capacity. But, a shared vision and an action plan for the collective will of the community is required.

In the hands-on activities below you'll review a number of state-of-the-art businesses. They come and go, but most can do amazing things for your business, requiring little technical knowledge on your part. Note many look rather alike. You can bet they watch each other's sites carefully and when one posts an innovation their competition is likely to post similar innovations almost immediately as their own vital strategy to stay competitive. Monitoring the ads in Ecommerce magazines like Business 2.0 http://www.business2.com is a good strategy for keeping current on what's hot with new web-based Ecommerce site innovations, particularly regarding collaboration.

Hands-on Activities

1. Review the following services related to business collaboration and training.

A leader in the field.

Outstanding model of excellence.

An easy-to-use set of online publishing tools that requires no training or HTML expertise -- lets you develop interactive Web documents that give you insight into your employees' understanding and knowledge

"Redefining Elearning and Collaboration" Internet-based voice-based services, conference calls, and more! Free E-meeting Trials!

Free trials for audio-conferencing via Internet, and more!

Expert City
Connect with experts for advice.

Development Space
The application of Ebay to Internet aid. Consultants sought.

Global Development Gateway
International consultants registery, and more.

WR Hambrecht and Co. Brokers
Select "Research" and find the latest corporate Elearning Market report.

The Pacific Institute
Changing the way you think. Corporate training.

"We make the web work for you."

Wholetree Ecommerce Language Translation
"Engineered Multilingual Solutions" Services for going global!

Building communities for businesses online. Tutorials and tools available!

2. To find online businesses in your own community search for "your town, your state, your zipcode" and keep a listing. Is anyone keeping a directory of local online businesses in your community? If there are multiple listings, create a listing of the best of these.  If no one locally is maintaining a listing, perhaps you can start one and turn it into a business!

3. Create your own web conference and/or listserv among your peers for regular sharing of information. http://groups.yahoo.com Other free resources at

Recommended Readings

Read each article once without clicking on the presented web addresses.
Then return to explore those links that interest you.

Ten Collaborative Internet Tools
While this was written for educators, it applies to everyone learning to collaborate.

Explore the tools at http://lone-eagles.com/collab.htm and http://lone-eagles.com/media.htm


Submissions Required for the Ecommerce and Telework Certification

1. Email your instructor a one-page write-up on the time you spent on this lesson and which specific strategies you're prepared to adopt. Reference the best specific resources you reviewed during this lesson with emphasis on your particular interests. Verify you've completed all activities and readings presented in this lesson.

Share with your instructor a self-assessment of your skills related to this lesson and which skills you plan on developing further.

Use the following Subject line in your message "Submission for Lesson Seven."

2. Send your instructor a half-page description of the ideal community project you feel would actually work best for your community.

Optional Skillbuilders

1. Explore more on collaboration at http://lone-eagles.com/curr4.htm

2. Find a listserv related to your business from the listserv directories listed at http://lone-eagles.com/collab.htm