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.
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?
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.