Monday, March 21, 2011

Everyone Has Competitors

One of the quickest ways to lose credibility with anyone who knows anything about business is to tell them you do not have competitors. Everyone has competitors that would love to take business away. Acknowledging competition and differentiating oneself is the way to beat your competitors.

A couple of months ago my wife spotted a mouse in our house. He (gender assumed) darted across the floor and into the laundry room, disappearing behind the dryer. We now knew he existed, and it certainly would have been foolish for us to pretend he didn't. My wife (why is she always the one who sees him first?) next saw him on a shelf in her closet. He had found an old bag of halloween candy my wife had convinced our kids to give up in exchange for a toy. He knew my wife spotted him, and, with no where to run, he decided to stay still, thinking the bag hid him from view. But his entire back half, including a long tail, exposed the sneaky creature. I was called in to excercise my well-honed mouse-catching skills--after all, I had done this once before.

I found a tupperware container, quietly approached the bag, and placed the container over the top of the bag and the mouse. Then I slid a thin piece of carboard under the container, keeping all of the contents inside, and drove that mouse to a nice field far away from our house where he would have to work a little harder to find tasty halloween treats.

Pretending I did not exist proved a bad choice for the mouse, and it will not work out well if you do the same to your competitors. But I caution you about another transgression entrepreneurs make when it comes to competition. It is competitor obsession. If you find yourself so focused on your competitors that you are, even in the slightest way, distracted from improving your own business, then you have competitor obsession.

So, my advice is to be aware of your competitors but not obsessed with them. Focus on improving your business and differetiating and "niching" your products and services and you will find the most success.