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When you’re growing your business, striving to turn your passion into a thriving entrepreneurial career, worrying about your competition can be a source of stress and self-doubt. You can feel like there’s always someone to keep up with and someone doing better than you are. But this won’t get you anywhere. Competition is good and mindset is key in turning perceived stress into opportunity.

There are two main ways to deal with competition in business;

1. Focus your attention not on your competition, but on improving your business and serving customers better

I like to call this the “keep your eyes on your own paper” approach to business. While it is good to be aware of your competition and know what they are doing. BUT, it can backfire if you are totally consumed or threatened by it. You can start feeling anxiety over things you cannot control.

Instead, focus on what you CAN control — your own business. You can gain a competitive advantage by making your business better than the competition. Ways like:

  • Creating a unique and engaging experience your customers can’t live without.
  • Making your product or service better or more effective
  • Speaking to your customer in a way that resonates more than the competition
  • Solve your customer’s’ problems more quickly, more efficiently, or better that the competition.

Notice, NONE of these ways of gaining a competitive edge include lowering your prices or offering discounts. Customers who value what you offer are not concerned with price – they are concerned with value. If the services you offer are valuable to them, they will do whatever they have to do to pay your prices.

2. Collaborate, network and form alliances with your competition

Have you ever noticed that the most popular restaurants are never isolated, off by themselves in a part of town with no other restaurants? No, there are ALWAYS other restaurants nearby. In fact, restaurants that are isolated usually don’t last very long. The reason is because when it comes to location, restaurants are strengthened by their competition. As diners enjoy dinner at one location, they see all the others out there and want to try them too. The whole area gets more traffic, which means more customers for each restaurant.

The same can go for your competitors. Creating alliances or networks can help strengthen your industry as a whole. Each business has unique qualities to offer their customers. And, when someone isn’t a good fit for you, you’ll be able to refer them to someone who is — and vice versa.

Another benefit of collaborating with the competition is you’ll learn from each other. You don’t have to give away trade secrets, but sharing experiences and knowledge can help improve your businesses and industry as a whole.

How to Make Improvements

Business improvement doesn’t have to be a major project, in fact, it should be a daily practice. Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection, as Mark Twain said so aptly, and small things can make big differences over time.

Ask yourself. Where can you improve your internal practices & systems to create efficiencies?

How can you improve the service you provide to your customers and clients and the way they experience your work?

When you focus on serving your existing clients better, you’re taking advantage of the enormous opportunity learn more and make your improvements in exactly the ways that matter to them. When you do that, you’re developing a competitive advantage that’s hard to replicate because it’s personal. And what does everyone want? Personalized service.

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