One of the things that many businesses worry about is competition. Fear of competitors may be the reason a decorator agrees to price quotes that don’t meet their minimum income requirements. Concern about being left behind may prompt a company to offer a service or product that really doesn’t suit their business model.

Some companies get so obsessed with what their competitors are doing and how to beat them that they lose sight of what their own business plan and model was, and what it should be. Lose sight of those things for long enough, and it won’t matter what your competitors are doing, as your business will have lost its way and potentially its customer base.

Worrying about competitors, like worrying about most things, generally does you no good. The choices your competitors make, what they offer, and how they offer it, are things that are unique to them. While monitoring your competitors to stay abreast of what’s happening in your market — as well as to have some idea of what is being offered — is a good idea, altering your business model based on what they are doing is not. Your business is unique, as it is the only business offering your singular skills and services, and that’s what you need to focus on. Still, the urge to concentrate on, and the tendency to be concerned about, what your competitors may do is hard to beat.

If you find yourself obsessing about your competitors’ activities and how they may impact your business, here are some things to think about instead.

Points to Focus On

  1. There are enough customers for everyone – Many business owners tend to think of getting a customer as a zero-sum game — every customer a competitor gets is one you don’t, but that’s not exactly true. Companies make mistakes, causing customers to go looking for a new one with which to work. Plus, the internet has expanded a company’s reach beyond physical location, and customers can now be found in every country in the world. It may take some work to find them, and your customer base will depend on your market, but there are enough customers out there to sustain your business. You just have to find and communicate with them effectively.
  2. Competition means there’s a market – Yes, someone has to be the first to figure out the new product or offer the new service, but being first isn’t always best. The burden of education is on the first player in a new market. If you have competitors, it means that there are businesses out there who have already discovered the market for the products you offer and have found it to be lucrative. It also means there is most likely already a pool of educated customers available. That’s good news.
  3. People will like the way you do business, not the way your competitor does it – Every business is different. Some excel at customer service and pay a lot of attention to getting to know their customers. Others are simply order takers and make the ordering process simple. Some specialize in fast turnaround, or specialty items or one-offs. Odds are that a portion of your customer base will like the way you do business better than they like the approach your competitors take. Part of your marketing plan needs to be finding those customers and educating them on what it’s like to do business with your company.
  4. You can’t control what your competition does – Worrying over your competition is like worrying about the weather or that the sun won’t come up tomorrow. You can’t control those things, and no amount of worrying is going to change that fact. Instead of spending time being concerned about what you can’t control, take stock of what you can impact and concentrate on that. Can you offer different products? Can you learn a new skill? Can you improve your company’s customer service? Put your time and attention on the things you can control and work at making your company the best it can be.
  5. Do your research – If you want to triumph over your competitors, do what a lot of small businesses forget to do, which is research. Watching your competitor’s social media feeds can give you tons of valuable data. Also make sure you’re watching the analytics for your own feeds, so you can see how your customers and potential customers are reacting to the content you put out. Make sure you’re interacting with your customer base on a regular basis, and not just so you can sell them things. Find out what they want, what’s causing them pain, how they think you can help them, and what they don’t like.

Competitors are a part of business life and that’s generally a good thing. They spur us to try harder, to think bigger, and to attempt new things. Instead of worrying about your competitors, be grateful for them. They’re like the canary in the coalmine, proving that the market you’re in is a viable one.

They’re also a lesson plan: either they’ll teach you lessons on what you could do better, or they’ll teach you lessons on how not to do something. Both are valuable education. And remember, in the end, the only thing you can control is how your business runs and where you put your focus. If you want your business to grow, put your attention on that and watch your profits soar.