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Learning from business competitors: How to turn competition into inspiration

- June 19, 2012 3 MIN READ

Don’t let your business competitors make you feel threatened; instead, draw on them for inspiration, guidance and collaboration, and watch your business thrive.

When I first started planning to launch my life coaching business I spent a lot of time researching my business competitors – what they charged, how flashy their websites were and what qualifications they held.

One career coach was also a psychologist, one business coach had their MBA, and others had the most amazing websites. And then there was Marie Forleo – an amazing, beautiful and charismatic business coach based in the US whose experience trumped us all. I felt completely paralysed by fear and the limiting thoughts set in. 

“Who am I kidding? Who am I to do this?” I asked myself.

Then I discovered there was a name for the way I felt – coined by Marie Forleo, no less. She called what I was experiencing a “comparison hangover” – where one compares themselves to colleagues or people in their industry to the point of feeling inadequate and immobilised.

Eventually I realised that I either had to believe in myself or this fear would overwhelm me.

Identify your unique offering

The fact is, there will always be business competitors with a better websites, more Facebook likes or a more established business. But there is only one you.

Once I started to focus on what my unique selling proposition was – in other words, what I have to offer that no one else can – my true business model emerged: a niche coach who works exclusively with working mums and mumpreneurs.

This freed me to concentrate on my unique offering and forget about any perceived competition.

Learn and grow

I did, however, make a point of learning from my competition. I subscribed to newsletters and “liked” Facebook pages of numerous life coaches, marketing and social media experts. I became a sponge – not to copy but to learn. This helped me work out what type of life coach and entrepreneur I wanted to be and how I was going to add unique and sustained value to my niche market.

I found inspiration in what others were doing and this helped me in turn to inspire my clients.

See the potential

As my business grew I met entrepreneurs serving the same or similar niche markets to mine. My first instinct was to remain closed and protect my “patch”. One day I asked myself, “Does this person need to be an adversarial competitor? Perhaps they could inspire me and become my business partner, mentor, supporter or even a friend?”

I have since met a number of like-minded people in my industry that I would call all of the above, and who have helped me generate more clients. This never would have happened if I had kept an insular, private, fearful approach to “competition”, and didn’t look for the potential in building these relationships.

It is important to take a “generosity-first” approach to your competition and be aware that there is more to be gained by sharing, partnering and connecting than from being fearful.

Don’t feel threatened

If you ever find yourself feeling threatened by business competitors, instead focus on yourself and think about:

  • What is it that makes you special?
  • What can you offer that no-one else can?
  • What is your unique spin on this service, product or industry?
  • How can you help people change their lives?

Focus on your own unique brilliance and purpose in this world and connect with peers that have similar values and who inspire you to greater levels of success. Ultimately that will bring the greatest value to your market and success to your business.

How do you feel towards your business competitors and how do you draw on them for inspiration? 

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"