To most people this seems like an easy question. Time was if you owned a hardware store, your competition was the other hardware store down the road. It was relatively easy to keep up with they were doing. You knew if their business picked up or they were having a big sale. But that was before the internet and the inception of e-commerce.
Today, your business not only competes with other local businesses but with business around the globe. So, do you know ... who are your competitors?
If there is another business with a website that provides a similar product or services, that business is your competitor. Personal computers are as commonplace in today's home as telephones or televisions and most cell phones are internet ready. You could be losing customers to the hardware store a whole continent away.
Now, more than ever, your online presence can provide an opportunity to locate new business and new customers. Maximize your website and be competitive. A good SEO professional can teach you how to evaluate your competition.
Enter terms into the search engines and look at the number of results that the search engines return. Each of those websites is a competitor. Also, look at the Similar Pages link. Those too are your competitors. Search around to see what others are dong to attract traffic and convert visitors into customers. Then, use this knowledge to optimize your site.
Even though the economy is tight, business is still out there. You just have to compete.