I don’t know about you, but I was raised to believe the word competitor was negative. More of “them” meant less room for “us”. I’m sure you’ve experienced being around someone that subscribed to the old school mentality that the competition is the enemy. The dog eat dog outlook… every man for himself.
Ok, ok… that is a bit much, I know. But even taking it down a notch, thinking from that perspective makes me feel anxious. As a business owner, we don’t need any more stress in our lives than we already have and for me, this mentality is simply a waste of precious energy.
I see this outlook all the time in my coaching sessions. I hear things like, “they keep underbidding me” or “they copy us”. I’ve got a lot to say about this but I’ll reserve that for a different post and for now I’ll just say that I can promise you, 99% of the time, if your ideal client is signing someone else, it is about so much more than just their price-point. If you could fight the urge to blame your competition and instead figure out why your ideal client booked someone else, then you can figure out how to improve your process and win future business (yay for productive thoughts!).
When I started my own business and began diving deep into the world of understanding my brand, my client experience and who I was and am as an entrepreneur and person, I quickly realized that this dirty word, competition, was actually not that at all. I found it to be quite the opposite, in fact. There are so many reasons why getting to know your competition can be glorious and oh-so-helpful to your business and to you!
That brings me to the point of this post…
5 WAYS YOUR COMPETITION CAN MAKE YOU BETTER
- The success of our industry as a whole helps legitimize our creative industry. Although the creative world has come a long way from the days where the only way to achieve material success was fame or death (a la Vincent Van Gogh), it is still struggling to be seen as something to be valued and respected. Creative entrepreneurs and artists still feel guilty about charging enough to be financially successful (ie. the struggling artist mentality) and the outside world still doesn’t take creative businesses as seriously as they do the more mainstream career paths of becoming a doctor or lawyer. The more successful we are as a whole creative industry, the more legitimate we all become, together.
- You can learn from them. Not sure about you, but when I started I knew next to nothing. I learned SO much by hearing how my competition did things. The way they priced themselves, the way they presented themselves, where they purchased cool inventory, new tricks for efficiency, how they packed their trucks and delivered their florals, the list goes on! My “competition” are now some of my industry besties! We collaborate and pick each others brain, talking about things like what is working and what is not. I get a lot out of it and it truly does make me better!
- They can help you in a pinch. Ok… hear me out on this one. Let’s say you have a similar inventory to a competitor and a particular stand that you both own gets discontinued. That same week, you get a client that wants more of that stand than you have in your inventory. You can rent it from them and it is a total win-win!
- Did someone say free therapy? Sometimes, our lives as creative entrepreneurs get stressful. In those times, it isn’t always easy to explain it to a person who doesn’t “get it”. I chat with my florist friends all the time and it is SO nice to feel understood. Also, connecting gives you the warm and fuzzies. Humans crave connection and this is a great way to feel less alone as a business owner.
- Possible referrals. No company can take on ALL of the business. I refer out all the time and when I do, it is to my florist friends who I respect and have a good relationship with. I know that they are kind people and I know that they will take care of the client and conversely, I have had floral friends refer over to me when they are busy and I am free. The client is going to sign with someone, why not have it be with someone great?
So… next time you think of your competition, think of that overused hashtag to pair with it #communityovercompetition. As cliché and annoying as those hashtags can be, this one’s got a point.
My advice is to research your competitors, connect with the ones you enjoy and let them make you better!