We’d love your text comments at the bottom of each show episode page asking questions of me, our guests, and interacting with other commenters.
We also have the feature where you may “call-in” and leave a recorded message. Your recorded message may be used in future episodes and requires a simple registration on the podcast platform
Dr. Jason Behrman is an Out LGBTQ professional, rights, ethics, and business community activist. He has been an entrepreneur and worked in several startups in the vibrant technology-driven Montreal, Canada area. He is a marketing and communications strategist with a keen ability to distill complex concepts into approachable, informative, and engaging messages to reach target audiences.
Zetane provides us with an integrated platform where we can visualize 3D model representations of the inputs or outputs in the same space as the neural network. This, in addition to the platform’s explainability features, allows us to build visually compelling demos to present to technical and non-technical people alike.” https://www.zetane.com/
At Zetane we’re looking for passionate contributors who want to commit to a startup and make a contribution to our mission, “to drive the democratization and explainability of AI and facilitate collaboration between subject matter experts and AI specialists.”
We are developing the world’s first 3D (and 2D) Artificial Neural Network design engine and editor that runs on GPU. The Zetane Engine is on the cutting edge of AI and graphics engine development, and we regularly tackle problems where no solutions currently exist.
Our team is composed of honest, hardworking, creative, curious, and humble folks. We work hard to listen to each other first and talk second, and are overjoyed to see each other succeed. Zetane is a place where you will be technically challenged and personally supported. If that sounds like your type of place, we would love to hear from you!
May 27, 2020 (updated May 27, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
A personal overview of the podcast focus and direction while seeking your topic suggestions, feedback, and guest recommendations. I provide my personal WHY this is so important to me and hope you will find inspiration and insights to grow as an LGBTQ professional, entrepreneur, and organization. Subscribe to the podcasts and join us on www.OutBuro.com
We’ll chat with LGBTQ entrepreneurs about their inspiration, strategy, startup journey, successes balanced with insights from lessons learned.
We will be exploring way to launch, grow and expand your business from many perspectives.
OutBüro – Be inspired. Let’s chat, share, learn, and grow together. In each episode, we’ll have casual and informative conversations with interesting LGBTQ professionals spanning a wide range of fields.
Non-profits are a huge part of our community so we will chat with non-profit leaders about their organizations, their focus, and goals, successes, operational effectiveness, needs, and challenges.
We’ll also talk with leaders in Diversity and Inclusion consultants on creating safe and welcoming workplaces from an outside best practices view as well as corporate HR and D&I directors highlighting Successes and opportunities in their workplace for LGBTQ employees along with customers and clients.
Wil also have chats community allies across many sectors who strive to work with and promote the values of diversity.
Let’s learn, grow, and empower each other. Listen to the podcasts on OutBuro.com. Better yet subscribe via your favorite audio platform. Spotify Apple Podcasts Breaker Castbox Google Podcasts Overcast Pocket Casts RadioPublic
If you have topic ideas, would like to recommend future guests or to become a guest on the show please visit OutBuro.com, under the More menu Select Contact Us and submit your topic request or potential guest information.
You also can do more than just listen.
Join the online LGBTQ professional an entrepreneur community at www.OutBuro.com.
Add your profile. Indicate if you are open to being a mentor or would like a mentor. Find each other via member search.
Indicate if you are an entrepreneur or would like to be. And so much more.
Join or start a group – industry, topic, or geographically focused.
Host your LGBTQ employee resource group there.
Share great content you find from across the web, publish articles, upload your portfolio to your profile to showcase your work.
Make new connections, reach out via the site’s messaging to explore new opportunities. Rate current or former employers as an employee, contractor, or intern.
Rate organization even as a volunteer.
tout how great they are to work for or areas they could improve on.
Rate business or organization as a customer or client.
Help build a full picture so prospective LGBTQ job seekers and consumers can make informed choices
You make the difference. Your voice matters. Be where you belong. OutBuro.com.
I look forward to your feedback as we take this journey together.
May 21, 2020 (updated May 21, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
The first step to any budding LGBTQ entrepreneur no matter what startup’s business may focus on it is understanding your “why”. It is important to have, acknowledge, and understand your “why.” Why is this important to you? This is vital because if you have your “why” that you believe in you are in a better position. You can push yourself through and over the hurdles that will inevitably arise. Being an entrepreneur is tough, risky, high pressure, challenging, and can often feel lonely. Your “why” becomes your mission, your passion, and your drive.
It likely will shape the products or services you offer. It can become a core part of your marketing. All great marketing is rooted in “why” and leveraging that to tell the story and connect the client/consumer with the brand and its products/services. An authentic “why” can help get others on board in the early stages to support your business venture. It becomes a tool for measuring your own definition of success and helps to keep you focused.
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
Your “why” might strike you all a sudden or it may develop over time. It could be that something inspired you from your childhood. Maby you see a problem in the world and aim to be a part of creating a solution. Your “why” may have been inspired in a countless number of ways.
Questions to Ask to Get to the Heart the “Why” of Your Business
Why do I do what I do? Or Why do I want to do this?
What does it mean to me, my family, my life, the community, others?
What is the purpose for me, my family, my life, the community, others?
How can it help me, my family, my life, the community, others?
How can will it make a difference for me, my family, my life, the community, others?
How will it support me, my family, my life, the community, others? In what ways?
How will make me feel fulfilled and happy?
What are there gaps that it might be able to be a part of filling and why does that matter?
“Why” and Your Story
Your “why” can become of your company origin story being the foundation of your mission, driving your vision, and demonstrating your commitment. It can lead customers to identify with it, fall in love, and become brand champions. With businesses and consumers being overwhelmed with social media, emails, text, and more your well-crafted message has the challenge and opportunity to stand out as authentic. If your target audience sees and feels your passion, they are more likely to appreciate it, connect with it and do more than become a client/customer to becoming a valued brand champion sharing it with all they know.
Your “Why” is Not Money
Well, technically it could be money, such as the desire to help LGBTQ people with their personal finances like my buddies at The Dept Free Guys. Their branding has their “why” message clearly throughout. John and David were $50,000 in dept. They made a plan and became debt-free. They want to help others do the same.
A true “why” is not “I want to get rich“. Businesses rarely make profits right away, so the dream of money alone will not be reason enough to see it through. Could your “why” lead to financial gain, comfort, and success as you define it? Sure. Amazing if it does. Naturally, as you build your business plan and start executing on making it a reality you’ll set targets.
On a pure financial front, maybe your “way” is simply so that you can support yourself and your family while being your own boss. That is perfectly fine. There are lots of entrepreneur ventures matched with your skills than can if well executed fulfill that worthy “why”. Maybe a franchise would be a good fit with a business model, suppliers, and marketing pretty much done for you. But if its a mindset of only greed and to hell with anyone or anything else, you will likely live a miserable life doing crap you really don’t enjoy and feel zero personal satisfaction doing it regardless of the money. Money cannot buy true happiness.
Surround Yourself with Support
It is often said, and I wholeheartedly believe, that no matter if you are an entrepreneur or building your professional career, you must surround yourself with likeminded people who support your vision and lift you up even if they don’t totally understand it right now. That support can be in person or even online. Ideally, you will have also have one or more mentors who can guide you as well as hold you accountable to reach the heights of what your “why” can contribute to yourself, the community, and those your serve.
Having your immediate and extended family support can be helpful. As LGBTQ persons sometimes that is not a reality due to homophia and learned biases. But if you are one of the lucky ones that you being LGBTQ does not negatively affect your personal family relationship, they also can support you in your entrepreneur startup vision. This support might be that they just lend an ear when you need to talk or it could be that they are the first finanical investors in your business.
I and most industry leaders believe that having a life partner who supports your entrepreneurial interests is vital to your potential success. You are taking a huge risk, will have sleepless nights, likely work long hours, and may have financial ups and downs. If your life-partner doesn’t fully support you, it WILL strain the relationship. As early as appropriate, start the dialog with your life-partner about your ideas. Does that person support you and have as best as possible an understanding of all the risks, challenges, and commitment involved? If so, GREAT! Be sure along your journey that you keep the lines of communication open so they are part of your journey and sense when you need that extra effort from them.
A personal Note
My ex-husband was not very supportive of my entrepreneurial drive. He was more comfortable with the illusion of stability working for someone else, commuting every day to an office, and sitting in a cubicle. We got into many heated discussions over the topic. He had a difficult time understanding that my entrepreneurial drive is at the foundation of who I am. The best years of our relationship were when I did business travel 50-80% but was also miserable due to that. So, for many reasons after 17 years we parted ways and divorced – now 3 years ago. I’ve been single since and hope to eventually stumble upon a life-partner that supports, challenges, balances, and compliments me – and me him.
Friends – Supportive, Negotiate and Edit
This also goes for people you consider friends. As you start and work to grow our business, as mentioned you may be working long and irregular hours. You’ll likely often be stressed out. You may have financial struggles. Are your friends really your friends? Are they there for you as best they can be or are they superficial who will complain when you are no longer as accessible or don’t have the time or funds to join them all the time for activities like you might have before? If you value that person, at the first sign of them being frankly clueless and/or selfish, schedule a time to have an honest conversation. Then time will tell if they are a supportive friend or not. If need be for those that prove to be superficial as quickly and kindly as possible either edit them out completely or move them to the occasional acquaintance category.
It is perfectly fine if a friend doesn’t understand your business or why you work so much. But a good friend will strive to understand that it is important to you and be there when you are able to hit the beach, go out dancing, go on a hike or bike ride, and also lend an ear when you need someone to talk to.
Seek Out Other Entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur it is a great idea to build a network other entrepreneurs who do get you and what you are going through. They might also be a great resource to bounce ideas off of. They could be a good barter partner for services your business needs and referral source. They can be a great business and community resources. They can become great personal friends. And who knows, if the timing is right a mutual attraction, who knows maybe become a life partner. Who better to understand your and your entrepreneur’s journey than another entrepreneur?
Your “Why” Is Your Strength
When you boil down to your “why” it will give you strength. When you whole-heartedly believe in your message and your mission it’s easy to stop feeling self-conscious and just do it! You, like me, have something more important than your own insecurities to share. Your audience, customers, clients, constituents, employees, members, life-partner, family, friends, and the community, need you to shake away the clutter, identify and live your why and be as awesome, amazing, inspiring, and as kick-ass as you can be. They deserve it. You deserve it. You have the potential to be a great LGBTQ entrepreneur but they’ll never know it if you don’t step up, own it, and grow into your “why’s” potential. Plan don’t get stifled in thinking perfection is needed before starting. Most entrepreneurs, if honest, learn as they grow, and grow as they learn. Your first step is “why”.
April 28, 2020 (updated April 28, 2020) Published by Craig Derene
We are facing unprecedented times, and the world may not look the same when we come out on the other side. But we will come out on the other side.
True entrepreneurs understand that opportunities are embedded crisis. You may have already been dreaming of business ownership or found yourself in an unanticipated career transition, but now could be the perfect time to make the decision to regain control of your financial future. We’ve already seen a shift in “essential” industries. We are all re-learning the value in sanitation and respect for senior citizens.
Entrepreneurship in the time of COVID-19 doesn’t just mean selling face masks (though we truly appreciate those). If opening a business to help rebuild the country’s spirit and enhance our found-again values aligns with your entrepreneurial dreams, then the right franchise could be your ticket to career freedom.
This crisis will end
Whether it ends in a few weeks or a few months, there will be life after lockdown. You’re taking precautions to make it through the pandemic, so why not take precautions to set yourself up for success after it? The journey to business ownership isn’t a fast one. In fact, the process of researching franchises to being awarded one can take between 8-16 weeks. The decision to embark on this path isn’t a purchase decision, but rather an education and timing decision.
At the end of this road, there will be business casualties. But rather than letting fear of that dead-end keep you from opening your own business, take advantage of it. Lean into the presented opportunities of prime retail space, a motivated workforce, and hungry consumers ready to resume life outside their own 4 walls.
You have support
You’ve received an email from a business or two (or ten) reminding you to support your local businesses. You could own one of those local businesses.
We acknowledge that sounds overly simple and is not intended to discount the hardships encountered over the past month. You’ve seen businesses forced to close. You’ve witnessed friends experience layoffs. You yourself may be a casualty of the economic times. We don’t say this to make light of your personal situation, whatever it may be. We say this to motivate. Humans are resilient and determined and come together most during hardship. As of right now, there are millions of Americans rallying to support each other. To support you.
In addition to the communities rallying to support local businesses, state and federal governments are falling over themselves to pass laws to increase the cash flow for businesses. They have already passed the unprecedented $2 trillion CARES relief act, with more money to follow. Also, the “Impact For Small Business Act“ has secured an additional $50 Billion in SBA funding for the remainder of 2020 alone*. SBA rates are currently extremely low, with additional incentives as well, making it an ideal time to explore funding.
Have Questions? Let’s Chat
Uncover Your Next Step with Franchise Connect Pro
It’s our passion to link professionals to a franchise perfect for them. As a Certified Franchise Consultant, I am passionate about helping everyone, including LGBTQ entrepreneur, find their best business opportunity match.
April 14, 2020 (updated April 14, 2020) Published by Craig Derene
We’ve all been there—a tough day on the job that makes us eager for a new opportunity. Those periods at work can be frustrating, leading our minds to wander, longing for the American dream. Whether you’re stuck in a cycle of routinely sifting through job openings or you’ve just come to the conclusion that you need a fresh start, the idea of becoming your own boss is a refreshing thought. It’s common and OK to be dissatisfied with corporate America, feeling like you’re meant for so much more. You are reading this so YOU ARE MEANT FOR MORE. Own that, explore your options and take action toward making a change. A new opportunity might be on the horizon for you if you see it and seize it. So let’s explore the reality of opening a small business and how a Franchise Consultant can help guide you to a successful investment of your time and resources and if an established proven business model cutting your startup learning curve and increasing your chances of business startup sucess is right for you .
America has an estimated 1.4 million LGBT business owners as innovators, job creators, taxpayers, and providers of essential services that benefit our entire society. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender business owners are a vibrant, essential part of the small business engine that makes the U.S. economy run. That is why Franchise Connect Pro has partnered with OutBüro to help bring awareness and opportunities to the LGBTQ community.
Why owning a franchise may be the right choice for you
The truth about starting a small business
Many people looking to make a professional transition turn to starting their own business. Those who start a brand-new business offer unique products and services to the market, but the advantages of being an entrepreneur are usually exceeded by an overwhelming number of financial woes and time constraints.
While we definitely admire the drive and passion needed to start your own business, this might not be the most fruitful avenue for you, as shown in these facts of the reality of starting a small business:
Starting a small business might not be a practical option for you to invest your time and resources into, but there is thankfully another way: franchise ownership.
Investing in a Franchise
With a successful model and established brand in place, aspiring business owners can find success by becoming franchisees. Not only is franchise ownership successful in terms of finances in many cases, but it is also beneficial for your overall happiness and satisfaction with your career, as shown in these stats as reported by Small Business Trends.
90% of franchise owners enjoy their business, and 85% positively support their franchisor.
Nearly 75% of franchisees would choose this path again if given the option.
Nearly 80% of franchise owners would recommend franchising with their brand to others.
If you’re a pizza lover, then you might think that owning a nationally recognized pizza chain will be the perfect opportunity for you, but that isn’t always the case. Your professional strengths and desires might be calling you to own a business in a different industry. Guidance in finding the perfect brand is where a Franchise Consultant can help.
Making the Right Choice: Working with a Franchise Consultant
Your next step should not be a guessing game. Owning a franchise will be an investment of your time and money. When working alongside a Franchise Consultant, you’ll get intuitive advice and insight on what option is best for you and your family, factoring in your ideal schedule, income, and industry. A Franchise Consultant will carefully contemplate and evaluate your drive and passion, taking into consideration factors such as when you want to work, where you want to work, and what line of business you want to be in.
Pairing you with a franchise that’s the best match for your personal and professional needs, a Franchise Consultant will work alongside you to make the most of your next career path. And, much like working with a realtor to shop for a new home, working with a Franchise Consultant is no cost to you!
Have Questions? Let’s Chat
Uncover Your Next Step with Franchise Connect Pro
It is our passion to link LGBTQ professionals to a franchise business opportunities perfect for them. As a Certified Franchise Consultants, we are passionate about helping people like you find their best match and increase your chances of business sucess through established business models and brand with recognition.
January 22, 2020 (updated January 23, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
As an LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should a competitor analysis to help you launch, remain focused, grow, adapt and own your market.
There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ businesses total in the United States, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. As LGBTQ business owners we can face challenges others do not, Some of these include disclosing their sexuality to their angel and venture capital investors, traditional loan officers, staff, co-workers and customers, landlords perhaps, and being a victim of harassment and discrimination based on who they are. This could be an outright blatant, conscious yet not visible and simple unconscious bias of others.
Why bother? I know what I’m doing.
There are many things a LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should have to help them launch, remain focused and grow including a business plan, a clear understanding of your target audience, a clear mission & vision, general marketing, great content marketing in all forms and clear understanding of the direct and indirect competition to become the front runner in the competitive landscape you are trying to grow your business in.
Completing a competitive analysis will help you to better understand your industry market trends, identify your competitors, evaluate opportunities, analyze threats to your business or organization, adjust your go-to-market and positioning strategy accordingly. Looking at our competitors analytically uncovers what works and doesn’t work. It helps you find that golden nugget of how to differentiate yourself in the market. Unknowingly they are essentially being a mentor to you and your startup.
So, let’s get growing your LGBTQ owned business so you can create job opportunities for others and grow your personal financial freedom and hopefully give support to the great LGBTQ non-profits supporting our community.
How Gay is This?
Now is creating such documents uniquely GAY? Of course not. Your sexual orientation does not play a role in the mechanics of creating a business plan or doing competitive analysis. However, the individual(s) who are LGBTQ entrepreneurs can face challenges their heteronomative competitors may not. There is little entrepreneur content out there that is LGBTQ centric – so we are helping to create it and OutBüro is a publishing platform for you to add to the collective knowledge and resources via posting your own articles. It can be leveraged as marketing your knowledge, skills, products, and services targeting predominantly LGBTQ professionals and other entrepreneurs.
Perceived Competitor Maybe Synergy
I’d also like to add that we’d love to think that everyone in the LGBTQ community is open, welcoming and supportive of all other LGBTQ. That sadly is not the case. In business, it is the same. You may have other LGBTQ businesses and even non-profits view your business as a competitor. Maybe you are. Maybe there’s some overlap of products and services yet the majority is different. Unfortunately, even if another LGBTQ owned business or non-profit perceives you are in some way and scope encroaching on what they believe to be their domain – you are their competitor. So you might as well do a competitive analysis on them to better understand their mindset. Maybe you are a competitor. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to partner. After having done your homework, if they accept a call/meeting with you, you would be able to clearly articulate the synergies and joint opportunities and dispell their assumptions and maybe a partnership would improve both companies/organizations.
Your competitors can come in many forms depending on the type of business you have. Maybe you are a dentist opening an office in an underserved community. It’s a potential that a medical non-profit serving that area could view you as a competitor since their funding may be based on numbers served.
Your competitors have likely been operating for a while. They have clients/customers and therefore making money. Those clients/customers to some degree like them, find value in them and respect them. No matter if you are opening a new local ice cream shop, bar, legal office, dentist office, or launching a potential industry disruptive technology, in all cases, you must understand your real and perceived competitors to ensure:
What they’re doing better than you right now so that you can strive to do it better?
What are their marketing strategies and tactics that seem to be working>?
What mistakes in your humble opinion or that’s been publically reported that you can strive to avoid and possibly capitalize on?
Don’t be modest here. What do you believe you are doing better? How are you different? Leverage these in your marketing.
Competitor as a Mentor
Well, most competitors won’t sit down over coffee and share their entrepreneur journey or provide business advice to help you not make the mistakes they have made. But they have achieved, to a level of success, what you strive for serving a similar target audience. Think like that, they’d make the great mentor. You still can learn a lot from what you can observe through completing a competitive analysis.
Even just one insight into how your competitor operates can give you great ideas. But after a full competitive analysis, all the gathered can drive your competitive strategy.
Who are your competitors?
There are two kinds of competitors to consider:
Companies/organizations who have similar products or services – i.e. McDonald’s and Wendy’s
Companies/organizations that have different products or services but who compete for the same dollar – i.e. McDonald’s and Papa John’s Pizza
Consider the example of Hulu. They don’t just compete with other streaming services, they compete with movie theaters, cable TV, YouTube. They are competing for your couch time. So the gym, social events, social media, and gaming could all be considered competition. Focus on your direct competitors first and then expand to consider indirect competitors too.
Questions while completing a competitor analysis
Starting off with the big questions like:
Who are the major players serving this market?
Use internet searches and other resources to locate them for the geographic area you intend to cover
How is the market split up between them?
If there aren’t reports, you might find their revenue reported on their website, or in articles and lastly, you might find the company tax reports.
Next go a little deeper, with more specific questions like:
How does the market think about these competitors?
Check out online reviews. Search for articles online.
What is their target demographic? Do they market to a target age group or income level? If B2B what size and kind of company is their ideal client/customer?
What sort of experience are they offering?
If a physical location, check out their office/store. Interact with employees. How is their customer service?
If they offer professional services such as consulting, check out their employee profiles on sites like LinkedIn. To be a real sleuth, create a temporary account so the competitor employees don’t see that it’s you checking them out.
How does their product or service look and feel? How does it work?
If local, check them out. If online and you’d like to sign up for their email marketing newsletters and maybe have a sales discussion including a product demo then again being a sleuth, use a pseudo name (i.e. John Smith), create a new Gmail email account, get a Google Voice phone number to use.
How are they delivering?
What do they charge? How do customers order? What reviews do they get?
Search, search and then search more.
Along the way keep asking if your business can differentiate itself in some way.
Identify competitor strengths and weaknesses
You’ll begin to see which ones will challenge you most as you learn more about your competitors. They might be in your region, or they might target the exact same market segment as you. List the strengths and weaknesses of these competitors.
Strengths might include things like:
huge brand awareness – they’ve been around forever and people trust them
great distribution – they’re in all kinds of shops, all over the place
really good networks – they’ve built lots of great relationships with buyers
low price point – It may be impossible for you to compete on the price. However, in many markets leading on price can be perceived as low quality.
Weaknesses might include things like:
Reputation – clients/customers don’t get a thrill buying from or interacting with them
Cheap packaging – their product packaging is not aligned with the target audience’s expectations
Lack of depth – the competitor has remained limited in service or scope that you may offer
Bad reviews/perception – clients/customers aren’t have left bad reviews online or you hear industry talk of clients/customers desiring an alternative
Poor client/customer service – consumers don’t feel valued which may tie into bad reviews
Lack of innovation – their product or service offering has not improved or evolved over time
Poor messaging – their online and offline marketing content is dated, stale and lacks excitement.
By understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can figure out what differentiates you – and where you fit in the
When doing a competitor analysis, it’s important to consider your advantages. There may be things about your business that others can’t replicate, like:
Patents or licenses: Are you the only business that can produce a certain product?
Exclusive supply arrangements: You might be the only business in your area that can sell certain products.
Special processes: You might have a way of working that others don’t know about.
Innovation: Maybe your product or service is an industry disruptor.
Costs: Maybe you offer a wider service or better products at a similar cost. Again, don’t just try to be the lowest-priced offering.
Social reach: Maybe you are good at social media and content creation to attract the attention of clients/customers/members.
Customer Happiness: Maybe you provide such a great service/product and in all touchpoints, you and your team excel at customer service creating happy customers/clients.
It’s important to know where you have advantages like these. Leverage them in your online and offline marketing.
Do it again and again
Be sure to schedule at least every 6 months to update your competitor analysis and ask:
Have new competitors popped up?
How difficult would it be for a current competitor or a new company/organization to replicate you product/service and strategy? If easy, what can you do to make it more difficult?
Have current competitors made changes to their business/organization?
Have they improved on their weaknesses?
Have they added new products or services?
Have they updated their marketing?
Have these changes affected your own competitive advantage positively or negatively? If so, adjust to the evolving market in whatever manner is most effective to regain your competitive advantage.
Start your competitor analysis today
You don’t have to have an exhaustive competitor analysis to get started. It can take weeks to complete your first version working it into your business daily and weekly schedule. But, put it on your calendar so you are to be sure to get it done with as many competitors as possible at first, even if that is only 2-5. Fill in what you can find easily and then add to it as you go to learn more. It won’t complete itself and is a vital tool to understand your competitors and ensure your product/service and marketing is on target.