Are You Paying Too Much or Too Little Attention to Your Competition?

Is Embracing the Competition the New Black?
We’ve all been there: worrying about what our competitors are doing, wishing we had thought of their great idea, regretting we hadn’t made more sales calls or anguishing over the possibility of lost market share. It’s easy to get upset about an aggressive competitor, but is that the best business approach? Perhaps not.

What if you were to take a more holistic, bigger picture view? Maybe the next time you think about the competition, you’ll be wondering how they can help you increase business and profitability. What if you put on rose-colored glasses and looked at your competition as:
1) A source of inspiration, motivation and ideas: I’m not saying you should copy what your competition is doing, but I am sure you can learn from them. I know I do. My competition motivates me to perform my job better and keeps me on top of my game. They get my competitive and creative juices flowing and I am very grateful for that. Of course, I can do this without them, but a little push in the right direction never hurts.
2) Your potential business partner: Today’s competition may be tomorrow’s business partner. I have seen this occur many times in my career, i.e., when two hospitals combined and their respective fertility clinics did as well or during other types of mergers and acquisitions. That is why it is important to always be respectful and collegial with all the professionals in your vertical market niche. Bad mouthing, rumor spreading and snubbing are never appropriate nor does it make sense in an environment when roles and boundaries are constantly changing. As a small business owner, I always view my competitors as potential business partners. I never know when I might need their specific expertise or help on a particular project.
3) A way to clarify your brand: Often watching the competition can help clarify your own vision and brand by redirecting you to follow another path or a particular niche/area of expertise. Just because the crowd is moving in a certain direction does not mean you and your company necessarily want to go there.

If you are running a race you want to put on blinders. If you keep looking back at the horse behind you, you may first lose focus and then the race. But if you have a clear strategy and goal and do the necessary work to be a market leader, chances are you will meet your objectives and beat your biggest competitor — yourself.

Need to learn how to live with the competition? Check out this great story from Parade Magazine about tennis champions Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and their intense rivalry yet enduring friendship. Pretty inspiring.

Share |