The greatest advice I ever got. Part 3 {Competition}

Embrace Every Form of Competition

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” Zen Shin

While sitting with another business owner recently, I gleaned yet another piece of advice which I must say is quite important to all entrepreneurs. All the advice i’ve gotten so far is absolutely essential to all business owners as well as aspiring ones; this is why I share them with you lovely people.

Ok, so here goes; competition, of whatever form was a death sentence to many entrepreneurs – myself included. It can happen that you’ve been nursing a business idea and just when you are about to implement it, along comes another entrepreneur who has the same idea and gone a step ahead to launch it. It can also happen that you are already in the early stages of start up or launch and you are in the process of stabilising your business or experiencing some early teething problems and next door the same business (as yours) springs up and probably hit the ground running. This can be quite devastating to many entrepreneurs.

You suddenly get to that crossroads where you continually ask yourself whether to forge ahead or just surrender to this new kid on the block.

Why would you want to do that though? Why would you want to surrender? or even fret over the fact that there is a bit of competition nearby. Competition, no matter how strong is good for your business. Yes! you heard right… Competition is GOOD.

Competition
Neccesary competition. Attribution: www.planetizen.com

Earlier in my business journey, I was absolutely devastated when I learnt a fresher (and richer) entrepreneur launched a similar idea to mine and to rub salt on my injuries, he got a bit of traction in the initial stages of the business but….. lets move on!

But then a successful business owner who also happens to be a friend sat me down and told me not to fret. He made me understand that the business market place is so huge that at any given time, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of like for like businesses can operate alongside each other and still happily make a profit. That single piece of advice made so much sense; I live by it even today. Think about it, today, it is almost impossible to find a business so unique that it holds a monopoly on our buying decisions. That’s because every idea has been copied and every uniqueness has been smashed to bits. So, we can all have a slice of the pie. No problems.

Successful entrepreneurs are aware of this but they never bother about a bit of competition. Why is that? Because it keeps them on their toes ==> and this makes them strive to be better==> and this makes them better. Here’s a bit that’ll burst your brain: no business or idea is unique anymore, they lose their uniqueness the moment they start operating, but the moment competition surfaces, they fight like mad to gain uniqueness, thus making them more unique than when they first started”. Got it?

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Competition all around. Attribution: www.atlantis-travel.eu

But what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? You have to keep on fighting my friend. Take the positives from the emerging competition. Yes! You heard right, there are positives.  So rather than run off in a hot panic, why don’t you 1) Improve your marketing 2) Everyone has flaws, utilise the flaws of your competition to your benefit. and 3) Innovate to elevate. The question you constantly need to ask yourself is this: what do i need to do to bring more customers to me instead of the other guy?

Think of any major player in business – Starbucks for example, do you think they lose sleep over Costa Coffee or Cafe Nero? What about tech companies like Apple, Samsung or Compaq? do you really think they quake in their boots when the others sprang up?

Lets look at the other end of the spectrum – small businesses. Believe it or not, in most parts of the world, competition is even encouraged by small business owners. It is almost as if they have all resigned to the fact that competition will spring up nearby, it is a fact of life. The thought process then becomes that of welcoming the competition with open arms just so they can keep an eye on each other. Ever been to the Turkish Grand Bazaare? – an open market where traders ply their trade. It is stunning, seeing rows and rows of shops on both sides with majority selling the same stuff.

The same can be said of markets in South America, Africa and Europe. Here in England, you will find examples of this at the Old Spitalfields Market and Billingsgate Market (where every single trader sells fish). Competition is good and you actually need to embrace it.

This advice stands me in good stead and I live by it in my business life. I was told to accept that competition will exist, its a fact of life, and there is nothing I can do about it but improve my own business and strive to be better. More importantly, I was told not to feel distraught when competition showed up, but to take it as a compliment and sign that my business idea was sound and finally, I was told to see the business world as a gigantic market place with a slice for every single one of us.

Do you worry when competition to your business appear? You can add your comments below.

Kole Obasa

56 thoughts on “The greatest advice I ever got. Part 3 {Competition}

  1. Excellent article, Kole. The late Red Adair, who was a famous American oil field ‘blow out’ firefighter, learnt at an early stage in his career that you should never rely on one source of income. In other words as the old adage goes “Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket”. Competition is healthy and can act as a catalyst not only to improve your existing business and yourself but can be the seed that eventually blossoms into innovation and diversification of your business activities so if one entity fails you’ve got life lines.

  2. It’s quite interesting that entrepreneurs would be threatened by competition. For me, competition has always been a very crucial and important part of my business! I constantly study them, even before I started by business. I use their weaknesses and mistakes to my advantage. They in fact, keep me in the business!

    1. I like your take on it eL-Gee. “they in fact keep me in business” I like that. We actually should all think like that. Thanks for your input and thanks for stopping by.

  3. Great article Kole. I think a little competition is healthy, can give motivation, but when it becomes all-consuming – then it enters danger territory. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. The only kind of competition that I enjoy is the friendly kind. I’m in a DS company and every once in a while our director will have a challenge for us to do. It helps us boast our sales and keeps the group fun.

  5. Nice article. I find a little competition motivating! Pushes us all to be better! (unless it hurts my feelings, then it just makes me cry… I kid, maybe.)

  6. Good post. I think i can sometimes get competitive when it comes to my blog, striving to achieve better and compete with bigger blogs, but then i realize my blog is special in its own way, and i can offer my reader a different expereince

    1. Exactly! Thats the way to think about it. No need to have sleepless nights about other blogs when you are confident of your own content. And once you are able to keep your own set of followers, they won’t need to go elsewhere. Thanks for reading the post Marleen

  7. Competition should make you aware that nothing stands still in the business arena and you must continually strive to improve. Never ever give complacency or self-satisfaction the time of day !

  8. Oh man. I needed to read this today! Just earlier this week, someone in one of my blogger Facebook groups launched a new blog similar to mine and used half of my tagline in her tagline. Specifically, the most powerful phrase in my tagline. I’ve been seething all week. Thanks for this post. I’m letting it go!

    1. You got the right attitude Jenn! Do you know how you know you are on the right track? Because your ideas are being copied by someone else. Just shows you are on to something good. All you need to do now is to soak up the pressure and use that to constantly make your brand better. You will be better for it eventually.

  9. Here’s a poser. Competition in itself should not be feared because it can inspire you to become more successful but if eventually there is a surfeit of rivals does this mean however hard you try you run the risk of being squeezed out of business or do think by innovation, diversification and revamping the operation of the business this might prevent this happening?

    1. Michael, the trick is simple. Uniqueness is the key. The more rivals come on board, the more you are on your toes innovating and diversifying. Knowing that every single business is unique in its own right, if you concentrate on your uniqueness and sell that hardly, you will be entitled to the share of the market. People like uniqueness, its a fact and that is why you have small independent businesses still active because they have dedicated/repeat customers who seek them out because of their uniqueness.

      1. Thank you very much for your reply. Great input. Yes, I can now see that uniqueness could keep a person’s business in a healthy and progressive state. Your thinking is sound and inspirational. Despite continuing ongoing retail trading difficulties in the UK High Streets could it be that those boutique shop owners are perhaps fairing better than their conventional rivals because they are offering something really special which attracts customers?

        1. I would say so Michael, boutiques are naturally unique; they have to be. They have been clever enough to retain their customer levels and this is the key to their success. Other things like smaller overheads and price structure have helped too with their survival.

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