Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Whos Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

Be honest, does the thought of competition give you a sinking feeling?

Many small businesses dream of having the market all to themselves thinking that it is so much easier to market and grow without that pesky competition getting in the way.

The problem is that we actually need to lean into our fear of competition to reap the benefits. Competition is good for businesses and you can make it really positive for you too.

Reason 1 – The proof is in the competitors

If there’s no competition, are you sure there is really a market for what you are selling? If others are doing something similar, then there is a market. Sure there are examples of businesses that have led the field and created demand for products that none of us knew we needed – but they generally had lots of backing to drive market desire. Unless you have a large stash of cash sitting around doing nothing, accept that competition proves there is a market for what you are offering. That’s good news.

Reason 2 – Competition drives interest

The more potential customers see that something is available and the more options there are, the more they are interested in how it can work for them.
Ever wondered why shops cluster together? Phone shops, car dealerships, clothes stores – if you think it is accidental, think again. They choose to be near each other because they capitalise on driving interest from potential customers. These customers get to compare and contrast in an easy way – as a result, a smart retailer will improve its market share, not lose it. Critical mass is achieved simply by the presence of competition and you can use it to your advantage.

Reason 3 – It keeps you on your toes

Stand still and your competition will push you to the sidelines – it’s as simple as that.

Having competition means that you need to be moving forwards all the time. Even better, it gives you the best possible chance to show just how unique you are, how much more value you offer, how much better your customer service is. It means you can focus on your strengths, learn to minimise your weaknesses and stand head and shoulders above your competitors.

Reason 4 – You can learn from them

By knowing and watching your competitors you have the chance to get real insight into what your customers really want. See what works and what doesn’t, then use it to your advantage to take your business above and beyond the competition.

Watching your competition means learning from them – not comparing yourself and your business to them. Comparisons that run along the lines of “how do they do it so much better”, “why can’t I be that good” are going to destroy your soul. Instead, shift your mindset and ask “what are the key elements that make it work and how can I go one better”. Maintaining a positive spin will keep you on the straight and narrow, not nosediving into a pit of despair.

Reason 5 – Be a leader, not a follower

If you are doing things right, then there is one thing that is certain - your competitors will be watching you and imitating you too. It’s human nature to feel a little irked about this – it was your hard work after all. Instead use it as a prod up the proverbial to take action. Use it as the motivation to take chances, see new opportunities, innovate, create and lead with insight. They don’t have that advantage, because they aren’t you. Be one step ahead and prepared to be out front – taking risks is what running your own business is all about. The more risks you take, the more you learn and the more you grow.

The next time you find yourself daydreaming about waving your magic wand and banishing your competitors in a cloud of smoke, ask yourself how you can turn competition to your advantage and elevate your business to new heights.

©Polly Hearsey 2019

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