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The world is becoming increasingly competitive – we can see, feel and almost taste it every day in our own business areas and enterprises. We have the experts telling us how volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous the world it is – and hell yeah, it is.
The business of busyness is speeding up as we play snakes and ladders on the way to achieving our goals. Achieve a marketing win – up a ladder to the next profit margin. Then, boom – a competitor somehow gets their almost identical campaign out the day before you, and down the slippery snake of self-pity and ‘that was my idea!’ we go.
Customers, clients and suppliers are becoming more demanding; we are being asked to do more, with less resources. The challenge to continuously innovate, ideate, and disrupt the status quo – and to change that which is working for us – is constant.
As a result?
The business game board is looking awfully scaly, with very few ladders in sight.
As a marketer by trade, I was trained to keep my eye on the competition. To audit regularly. To watch them like a hawk. To fight for those small per cent changes in market share; and above all else, to stay ahead, ahead, ahead.
This question I now have though, is this.
Is keeping your eye on the competition fuelling your business fire, or simply dampening your spirit?
The business landscape is changing in the blink of an eye. We risk spending so long staring at everyone else that, when we remember to take said blink, the future is suddenly the present – and we are no longer a participant in the game.
We can be so hamstrung by our competitive watchfulness that it puts us in to comparison mode 24/7. It kicks in self-questioning – rarely for the better – and freezes us dead.
The end result? No goals achieved, no journey’s summit reached.
I’m not naively saying let’s ignore the competition (or for that matter general market activity), letting them go on their merry way by any means. What I am saying, is this.
Use your awareness to your advantage. Take the blinkers off. Open your eyes to possibility, and above all, reinforce your plans and dreams, and change direction towards that dream if need be. Don’t pour cement over the momentum of your own progress by watching the brick-by-brick build of the Joneses’ Business.
A quote famously attributed to Henry Ford goes as follows: “If I’d asked what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
New businesses are going to pop up out of nowhere for the foreseeable future, because it’s the way things are. They will continue to challenge the norm, to create new industries and reshape the corporate landscape.
But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your own fire of innovation out. Just make sure your first competitive audit is with yourself, because you are your key competition. Better the last goal, and ask the hard questions of yourself – are you growing in sales, profit, learning, are you on the path to success? Or are you stuck because your competition audit is creating self-doubt, a negative questioning of your why – and subsequently stopping you in your tracks?
Time to throw some fuel on your own fire – and light up the business sky.
Don’t let your own flame go out simply because someone else is burning brightly.
Remember, they may be thinking how warm and strong your flame is too.