The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Darrah Brustein
1. Sign Up for Their Newsletters

I sign up for the newsletters of my competition so I can be quickly aware of what they’re up to and how they’re positioning themselves. – Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

Laura Roeder2. Follow Customers and Prospects on Social Media

Following the prospects, customers and thought leaders in your industry on social media is an effective and easy way to stay on top of the conversation. I’m more interested in what my community is saying about competitors than what competitors are saying about themselves. – Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com

John Rood3. Ask Your Customers

Ask your customers who else they considered for your product/services. Ultimately, it’s your customers’ insights and decisions that guide the competitive environment. Bonus — this helps you build your own business as well. – John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation

Brett Farmiloe4. Use SpyFu to View Competitor Ads and Keywords

We use SpyFu to download our competitors (and our client’s competitors) most profitable keywords and ads for paid and organic search. By viewing what keywords our competitors are targeting and what ads they are using to attract new customers, we are able to take that insight and incorporate their efforts into our own content creation strategy. – Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Thomas Cullen5. Make Friends

Some of my best friends are our competitors. The knowledge share that we get out of our meetings has been invaluable to both of our companies. We certainly don’t share business secrets, but talking through and helping each other with normal business challenges keeps me informed and helps us focus on growing our businesses. – Thomas Cullen, LaunchPad Lab

Aaron Schwartz6. Sign Up for SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is a great startup that provides tracking of keywords for you and your competition. It’s a significantly more detailed version of Alexa. Every week we get a report outlining trends that are impacting our industry as well as how our competition is mentioned in the press. – Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Nick akey7. Stay Updated With SerpWoo

I receive an update email whenever one of our company related SERPs (Search engine results page) changes a position. This is a great way to see who is link building and who is link deprecating. – Nick Akey, MakerSquare


8. Listen to Them at Seminars, Conferences and Trade ShowsPeter Daisyme

I attend all the panels and seminars that involve our competition. I like to hear how they talk about the industry and their own capabilities. In this environment, they tend to want to share and prove their expertise so I like to soak that up so I see what they are thinking and get an idea of their vision of the future. – Peter Daisyme, Due Invoicing

Vik Patel9. Set Time Aside to Inform Yourself

Like many entrepreneurs, I’m inclined to become so deeply focused on my business’s processes, products, and problems that I lose touch with what’s happening in the wider industry and world. To combat this tendency, I set aside time to read leading publications in my industry and keep an eye on the social media activity of competitors and vendors — Twitter Lists are very useful for both activities. – Vik Patel, Future Hosting

Jennifer Mellon10. Set Up Google Alerts

My co-founder and other C-level execs have daily Google Alerts on brand key words. Staying on top of the press and having a clear understanding of the day-to-day developments in our industry and the verticals we pursue is incredibly helpful in staying on top of our brand’s competition and potential competitors. – Jennifer Mellon, Trustify