In business, it’s easy to view the word “competition” as a negative … a world in which we concern ourselves with what our competitors are doing, where they are working, who they are meeting and what they are planning next. It’s a never ending battle and one you don’t want to fight.
Competition is like gravity. Fighting it is useless and once understood, it can be an essential tool in creating your professional goals. The best course of action is to embrace it respectfully; don’t allow what someone else is doing to take over your life.
Here are some examples where competition can make you a better entrepreneur.
Let the competition give you clarity about your path.
Some business owners try to ignore their competitors as they focus on their own vision, but understanding your competition offers insight into your unique value proposition. Evaluate what your top competitors are doing and identify what they do well, what they do poorly and what they’re not doing at all. They are a valuable source of information when it comes to measuring your pricing, your offerings and your marketing efforts. Having this awareness will help you establish your unique offering. You don’t want to merely duplicate the work of someone else, but stretch your mind to take your niche to the next level.
Get fired up.
This is perhaps the most powerful boost your competition can give you. If you have ever run a 5k, you’ve probably felt the pull of setting your sights on someone running just a little faster than you while keeping them in sight as you try to gain ground on them. This is the type of competition that leads to personal bests and spurs us to accomplish things we didn’t realize we could do. Imagine if your pace was so fast you had no competition in races – you probably wouldn’t be inspired to perform to the full extent of your capabilities. Healthy competition has a way of bringing out the best in ourselves and showing us what we are really capable of achieving.
You may have something to offer a competitor that they need and can’t afford or vice versa. Offer to assist them in creating a contract, identifying a product or service, hiring a web service or designer, or locating a vendor or supplier. Give them the benefit of your experience if the opportunity presents itself. Stay positive and make a point to forge alliances rather than make enemies. You never know when there will be an opportunity to combine efforts.
For the most part, many of our colleagues in the same industry are often good friends and trusted confidants. It would be counterproductive to spend hours upon hours watching what someone else is doing when we would be better off working to our unique and individual strengths.
The entrepreneurial process can be exciting when it’s approached as a collective team. A friendly competitor can enhance your business and send you referrals when the occasion presents itself. Just because you are in the same industry doesn’t mean you can’t brainstorm and work together when one or the other needs some help.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, read her Inc. contributions, subscribe to her articles on the Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, or follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.