Small Business Saturday Blog

Competing Fairly in Business: advice all small businesses should know

Monday, November 30 at 11:23

Competition – it’s an essential part of every-day business. It can often be tough, but it also brings rewards. By competing with rivals, businesses are able to offer a better service to their customers and can grow and prosper as a result.

Mention the words ‘Competition law compliance’ however, and most small business owners may roll their eyes and turn their attention to more interesting things. Which may well include their quarterly paper clip audit…

But suggest they might be being cheated by a supplier, or that a competitor might be getting business unfairly, and you’re guaranteed a businesses’ undivided attention.

The difference in attention levels is caused by how relevant people think it is. Competition law exists to protect businesses and consumers from other businesses who are competing unfairly (or, to put it another way, “cheating”). But talk about ‘compliance’ and many think of restrictive red tape rather than the ability to have a fair crack at running their business successfully. Being able to compete fairly and being charged competitive prices by suppliers is hugely relevant to small businesses.

So it follows that investing some time in understanding what illegal ‘anti-competitive’ behaviour looks like can help small businesses recognise where they may be at risk – either as a victim, or as an unwitting participant.

In order to help small businesses, the Competition and Markets Authority (the UK’s competition watchdog) has developed a range of short and simple online materials to help explain why competition law matters. These include animated films, a quiz, case studies and one page guides detailing the main types of anti-competitive behaviour and why they’re unfair for businesses and consumers. They also explain the serious penalties that can be handed down for breaking competition law and how you can report others who are engaged in it.

The CMA wants to help businesses be competitive by recognising when other businesses (suppliers or competitors) are acting unfairly and illegally, encouraging them to report it and to stay on the right side of the law themselves.

While counting paper clips has its benefits, its competition that makes small businesses successful. Check out the CMA’s animated films and other materials to find out more about why competition is relevant to your business.

Please watch this video for more information or visit the CMA website

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