You’ve started your business and are generally feeling optimistic, but sometimes you get distracted and decide to poke around the interwebs and take a peek at your competition. What started out as a “quick peek” turns into a downward spiral of clicking, eye rolling, comparing and possibly even crying!
Before you know it, you’ve bought yourself a non-refundable ticket to an evening of self-doubt and a night without sleep!
You’ve been told before that you “need” to know your competition so that you are aware of how YOU are unique.
You’ve been told not to worry because “there is no such thing as competition”.
You’ve been told A LOT OF THINGS about your competition, but the way you feel when this comparison kicks in is NOT something you’re fond of and so you are now asking yourself this:
“Should you focus on your competition?”
Firstly, I want to let you know that these uncomfortable feelings are completely normal! 90% of the clients I’ve worked with have, at one point or another, expressed disdain, concern or generalized anxiety about at least one of their competitors. Especially in the first few years of business when they are still hustling to fill their client roster, book up their schedule or meet their sales goals.
Secondly, I have an answer to your dilemma!
Navigating your relationship with your competitors:
While I don’t have a PhD in this topic, I have helped many business owners reconcile their uncomfortable feelings around competition.
Similar to the grieving process, there seems to be a 5-stage process that many people go through when handling the emotions surrounding competition. And lucky for us, once you go through ALL these steps, you will come out on the other side with a much better relationship with yourself and the way your view competition.
Stage 1: Awe
Usually we start out by being in awe of our untouchable competitors. They have likely been doing their “thang” for a while and they always appear to have their act together.
Stage 2: Jealousy
But then awe turns into slight jealousy. I mean “why do THEY have such a big following”, “why do THEY have so many good reviews” and for crying out loud, “why do THEY have such great freakin hair!?” You might think I’m joking about that final one, but I’ve heard many online coaches pull apart Marie Forleo with little jibes about hair extensions (as if that makes her less of a badass?!)
Jealousy is not a great look on anyone and you know this to be true. You are likely quite embarrassed when you fall into this space mentally. This is when you will feel MOST crazy and the fits of sleeplessness will be most plenty!
It’s ok though, keep reading.
Stage 3: Revelation
And then you will have a revelation. It might be when you are working with a coach or consultant (such as myself) and you are challenged to REALLY look at yourself alongside your competition as opposed to against them.
I encourage many of my clients to do a thorough website analysis of at least 3 competitors. I ask them to point out ALL the good and then to point out ALL the stuff that they don’t like as much.
Through this analysis they have HUGE revelations about themselves and their competition…and about how they “aren’t really competition anyway…because they are so different”.
Stage 4: Autonomy
Once you have a revelation about your differences (and how these are GOOD), you will feel a newfound sense of autonomy. A newfound confidence in your unique way of showcasing yourself or your goods in a crowded marketplace.
I must admit that when I first became a strategist…I was insecure. A little bit about my skills…but mostly about my competition. Once I began to focus inwards and hone my own skills, I grew by leaps and bounds (and so did my confidence…so did my clients!)
Stage 5: Respect
Once you find your autonomy and your very own place in the marketplace, you won’t be so bothered by your competition. You’ll respect them and if you’re smart, you’ll note when they are making waves and doing amazing things to shift your industry. However, you won’t feel the intense jealousy in insecurities that you once did.
Getting over your comparison issues is truly a process and it’s not one to skip or ignore.
Each stage has it’s place in helping you to grow as an entrepreneur.
Have you battled with comparison issues before? How did you get over them? Leave your feedback in the comments section!