The Only Person to Compete With is Yourself
Have you ever become completely discouraged with the quality of your work or in your ability to succeed because you were so focused on your competition? If you're like many business owners, seeing someone in your industry doing well can breed self-doubt, jealousy, and stress. None of which are good for business (or for our souls!).
Fortunately, I have a truth bomb to drop that might help you change your mindset. Begin to see competition differently with these tips!
You are your biggest competition and making the choice to water your own grass rather than give the owner of the lush green grass across the way the stink eye can change your business.In most cases, comparing your own success to the perceived success of someone else is just plain silly!
Recently, I spoke with a photographer who felt defeated because another local photographer with beautiful work was selling out sessions like hotcakes, while she was struggling to book mini sessions at a discounted price. Maybe she should just quit, because clearly her business would never be as good as the perfect photographer the next town over.
I encouraged her to reach out to the woman and ask her to go to coffee. She did and a week later they met at Starbucks and talked shop over their lattes. Guess what? It was revealed that the majority of the super shiny photographer's clients weren't paying her at all. They were family and friends, and people those people referred to her, that she was shooting for free or for huge discounts, just to stay busy because she wasn't getting a ton of inquiries. She had gone to school for photography and was paying off a loan for that. Any money she did make was going to bills and she was majorly struggling to keep her dream alive. She worked a part time job just to stay afloat.
Truth was, she was hurting, and was in even worse shape than the discouraged photographer who had spent months considering quitting because she could never compete with the other photographer in town. Even though she had over 15,000 fans on Facebook. Despite the fact that she was posting beautiful images of new people every weekend.
Think about a time you doubted your own abilities or success because of what you observed in someone else. Chances are you weren't getting the whole picture and have no idea what their reality was! When you consider that it feels a little ridiculous to compare yourself to someone else, doesn't it?!
Here's how to give that green eyed monster the boot, once and for all!
Shedding your tendency to compare yourself to others starts with being honest with yourself. Is there something about your business, or your skill level, that you're unhappy with? Sometimes insecurities can be magnified when we see other people rockin' it! When you look at what someone else is doing and start feeling icky, dig deep and find out why. What particularly is making you feel defeated rather than motivated? If you're feeling insecure about something, consider putting together a survey to send to your ideal clients or customers to get ideas on how you can improve certain aspects of your work or your business. Use their input and your own ideas to create a plan that will fill whatever void the jealousy is making you sensitive about.
Knowing what your competition is up to is important if you're using it for market research. If you're someone who gets discouraged by seeing the work of others in your newsfeed constantly, use that unfollow or unlike button! You are in control of what you see in your feed, and it should never make you feel unworthy. Instead, write down the few people you'd like to keep an eye on and make a schedule for when to take a little time to scope them out each month. This way, you're only seeing it when you want to. Additionally, create a list of things to look for. Don't just go peeking around because you're a nosy Nancy! Look for specific things about their work itself, or the way they run their business. Use those findings to brainstorm ways to change your own business to make it even more appealing! Sometimes, understanding where other similar businesses lack is a great way to come up with an out of the box (or a super obvious) way to stand out.
Understand That There's Room for Everyone
Perhaps you cater to an uber high end demographic, while someone else caters to a completely different income bracket. Or you sell chocolate chip cookies with sea salt and your competition sells them without that salty goodness. I would be ordering cookies from you on the regular because sea salt and chocolate are my jam, while my daughter would be begging me to stop on the way for the ones without gross salt. You won't appeal to everyone, and neither will your competition. The goal is to resonate strongly with your ideal clients and customers so that they are drawn to you, regardless of how many other options they have. If you are not properly communicating this, it's your own fault, not the fault of anyone else in the industry. It is impossible for anyone to steal your business unless you give someone a reason to walk away.
Bank on Your Authenticity
Because you are unique, so is your business! When you are authentic, and allow your personality to shine through your work (and your business model!) you create something that no one else can compete with. Know your worth and strive to always be better than who you were yesterday. Do customer service more wholeheartedly. Take a course to brush up on a skill that will make your work even better. Step out of your comfort zone and do some marketing. The more you aim to improve yourself the easier it will be to look at your competition objectively!
Think Friends Not Foes
I am all for building community; connecting with other business owners can be a great way to make friends and form amazing connections that help your business grow. I've seen amazing collaborations come when two people in the same industry came together to work on a project. Life long friendships have formed when business owners bonded over the struggles they felt that other people just couldn't relate to. So, instead of wallowing in the shadows of those you perceive to have it going on, reach out to them! Tell them how much you love their work, and suggest getting together. Remember, you already have a shared passion - whatever it is you do! Let them know that you love connecting with other business owners and would love to get to know them a little. Some people will say no, some will ignore you, but some will be thrilled and turn into huge allies. The outcome is so worth the risk!
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The next time you feel yourself beginning to compare your business (or your life) to someone else's remember that you really have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Focus on your own strengths, and use those pangs of jealousy to reflect on what areas you need to improve on. Choose to use your feelings as motivation to propel forward and always aim to improve. Nothing is more rewarding than taking a look at how far you've come and realizing just how much you've grown!
Do you ever struggle with comparing yourself to others when it comes to your business? Tell me about it in the comments, and share your favorite ways to snap out of it when you feel that green monster sneaking in!