The Thing About Your Competition

The competition is there, for sure. There are plenty of other people and businesses that ‘do’ what you do. But what you need to understand is they don’t do it exactly the way YOU do it. Sure, there are plenty of accountants, hairdressers, website designers, coaches, therapists etc that have the same qualifications as you – they share a ‘job title’ – but that’s where it stops.

So many business owners worry about the competition – which in itself is a defeatist move – there will always be competition. Even if you own the patent, or really do have a unique service or product you still have competition – from all the ‘other things’ someone can spend their money on! If you sell art, your competition might be with a travel agent or car showroom. Your website design service might be in competition with business coach, or new widget making machine. It’s not always ‘direct’ competition. Which is why you can waste a LOT of time worrying about your competition.

Now being sensible I’m not saying don’t do market research ever – it’s very sensible to know where you are in your market – and what trends are happening, and that people are already paying for a Thing like yours. Pay attention by all means but don’t get obsessed. Obsessively watching what ‘everyone else’ is doing will mean you’re not spending all the time you could be making your Thing brilliant. Your Thing is your Thing and you do it your way. It might be that no-one will ever do it the way you do. It might be that you’ll be the one who gets copied (in which case always be one step ahead).

Know if you’re the most expensive, or the least, know where you ‘sit’ in the market as it’s likely you’ll have to ‘defend’ or at least explain your position more than once in a sales conversation. There’s nothing wrong with being the most expensive if you have a good reason for that. I am sure you don’t buy the cheapest of everything – I know I don’t. There are many occasions when I’ll purposefully not buy the cheapest (hotels for example with me, I don’t want a 1 star experience!). I’ll often actively choose a more expensive option if the quality or difference has been explained for me. And the reverse is true for the cheapest too – if you’re cheap for a good reason show it off!

Price isn’t the only measure of difference however – you want to explain the WHY and the WAY you do your Thing that’s different to ‘the competition’ too. Some people will connect with your why, and others may wonder why you’re bothering to share it! Some people will buy from you entirely for the way you do your Thing – they may prefer the approach you have, the time you take (or don’t), where you do it, when you do it, and all manner of other details. Which is why you always must do your Thing the way you want to do it and the way you know will make it work best.

When you focus on making your Thing as good as it can be, you’ll automatically set yourself apart from ‘the competition’ as actually, you won’t have any. You’ll be in that perfect monopoly situation of you being the only business that does what you do the way you do it (and where, when and how you do it). Which means you’ll be able to charge what you like and work with who you choose.

And that is why it’s not worth wasting a lot of time on ‘the competition’ beyond a quick recce to see that people are already paying for what you do so you know it’s commercially sound!

There’s certainly more than one hairdresser in my town, and they all seem to be busy…

Lucy Whittington