There is a tendancy for startups to worry too much about competitors in their chosen marketplace in the early days. Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, made an interesting comment on the subject, saying: "Strike the right balance between respecting your rivals and focusing on how you can beat them, and you’ll have a winning formula." The fact is that savvy small business owners can compete in what looks to be a crowded field, even one filled with big players. The key to success doesn’t hinge on finding a completely empty field, but how you define your company and its place in the market.Here are four easy ways to set yourself apart and beat the competition in your industry. Firstly, identify a gap in your market and fill it - your idea doesn’t have to be a trailblazer, it can simply reinvent what already exists. Secondly, create a customer-centric culture in your company and stay close to what your customers need and want. Thirdly, don’t try and compete on price just because you are desperate to attract customers. Instead differentiate yourself in the marketplace and justify your pricepoint. Finally, remember that what looks like a saturated marketplace indicates that customer demand exists, and that the market is viable. If you carve your own niche, there will be room for your business. Follow these tips and you can beat the competition.