Know your competition
Any company with a desire to succeed will take a look at competing companies. Before entering into a market, it's good business practice to know what one is up against, and to build up areas that are found lacking.
I remember a chap who went to great lengths in order to design a product. He wouldn't look at any competing products because he didn't want to copy anybody. While his attitude was commendable, upon completion he realised that he had wasted his time, as there were similar offerings already available which were far better.
There is no point entering a market with products/services that are inferior to the competition's, unless one is providing them at a fraction of the cost.
Having a dig at the competition
When comparing against other companies, as well as finding shortcomings in one's own business, one often finds fault with the other companies.
The portfolios of some of our competitors have small pictures of the Websites they have produced, which are trimmed and displayed in a way that makes them look stunning, but they do not link to the sites or reveal their domain names. To really see what the sites look like one would have to search for them via Google, and quite often they cannot be found - even by company name - as the sites have dreadful or non-existant Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
In most cases, where Web design companies only displayed small snapshots of the Websites they had created, the actual sites often responded very slowly and almost always looked far worse than how the small snapshot made them appear.
There are many lessons we can learn from our competitors, both things that we should and should not do.