11/03/15

Competition? What Competition?

By Melanie Spring

Sunday at 8am in the cold rain, I hit the track for the first time in my running career. My trainer showed up with a woman with three Ironman's under her belt just this year. She was the hare, I was the hound. Her job was to kick my butt just enough to make me want to keep up with her. He started the timer with GO! and we were off and running.
 
She sprinted ahead and kept a steady pace ahead of me as I battled to keep myself moving quickly around the track chasing her feet. The first time around the track, I got competitive and tried to beat her. Rounding the first turn, I passed her only for my heart to remind me that I pushed too hard and I ended up walking. I realized in that moment I wasn’t competing with her, I could only compete with myself. So, we ran hard. We pushed ourselves. We pushed each other. In the end, I knew I pushed myself harder because I was chasing her. Pushing myself harder than ever before. Holding on longer at a higher pace. Finishing stronger each time was my goal. And I won. I only beat her once in eight times around, but I knew that wasn’t the point. I beat myself 5 times. I won.
 
When you started your business, who were you trying to beat? Did you look up every competitor in your market and figure out how you could beat them? Probably not. If you did, you wouldn’t have started your business. Looking at your competition is daunting.
 
When you started, you looked at all of your skills, figured out why YOU were amazing, and then focused on getting better and better. As you were growing your business, you had your head down doing the work, you kept your spirits up, and just KNEW you were the best. Until one day you looked up and saw someone doing the “same thing” as you. And your heart sank.
 
The only person you should be chasing is yourself. Knowing that your ideal business is a few steps ahead of where you are now will keep you moving in the right direction. It’ll keep you focused, keep you motivated, and ensure you are successful. YOU are the only person who can be you.
 
I hear it all the time: “I love what X competitor did with theirs. We should do that.” Umm… why? Why would you want to be a few steps behind your competitors? They’ve already done it - why not do something different or better - something that fits who YOU are? Looking at what everyone else is doing will cause you to be like everyone else. And that makes everyone mediocre - at best. If you’re only chasing yourself, continuously getting better at your craft, you will never worry about your competitors. And THAT is where true innovation happens. 
 
This leads us to knowing why you’re the better than your competitors without ever needing to look at them. When a potential client, referral partner, or investor asks you “Why are you the best?”, you better have an answer for them. And it better be a good one.
 
You have to know why you’re different. You have to be able to answer the question “what makes you better than your competitors?” It’s not a comparison, it’s knowing what makes you different - even if your competitors do EXACTLY what you do. You have to know what will ALWAYS make you different. You have to know this innately. And I’ll give you a clue - it’s not your years in business, your customer service, or your product details. 
 
Finish the following sentences:
1. We are best at:
Look through everything your business does and pinpoint the ONE thing you do better than anyone.
2. Our clients love working with us because: 
Ask them if you don’t already. Send them an email, text or just call them and ask them. If they love you, they’ll tell you why.
3. We want to be known for: 
Know where you’re heading and what you want your business to be known for.
 
When you’re competing with others, you're not focused on beating yourself. Your business was started to do something no other business can. You were put here to do something no one else can do. And you do it better than anyone else. 
 
Focus on beating yourself and you win.