As small business owners, we are constantly reminded of the large volume of competition out there. It could be a local shop owner who is selling similar products as you or a service provider that just moved into your neighborhood.
No matter what industry you are in – you are going to face ‘competition’ at one time or another. In my field – (design), I am constantly surrounded by talented entrepreneurs who could make me think that I don’t have a shot at my big dreams. Instead of thinking about those individuals as being competition, I have stuck to my belief that there is something you can do, which could almost completely eliminate the competition mindset.
From personal experience, (as well as taking cues from very successful small business owners), I have discovered that the way to really step away from competition is to focus on two things. Who you are and why you want to provide the product or service that you do.
‘Who you are’ (for the purposes of this article) is another way of saying: ‘what is unique about your business’ based on your personal skills, strengths, experiences and perspective. In business exercises you may hear people use the term ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP) – which is a common term for an exclusive offering. Often people identify and express this USP is through branding, messaging, copy etc. To really make these expressions – I suggest weaving YOU into those messages using things that only you can offer. Lean on what you have learned and see how it can differentiate your business from your competition.
‘Why’ you want to provide the products and services is also unique. Your intrinsic motivation is often more powerful and inspirational than the threat of someone taking your clients and consumers, as is in the ‘competition’ mindset. As an example – think about a business owner who runs an all-natural skin care line. If she started the business after seeing her child suffer from terrible reactions to big brand-name creams, that would be a big differentiator from her competition. Knowing that she is dedicated to helping other mothers soothe their children’s painful rashes isn’t the same as being the lowest priced item (Which may be another skin-care lines USP).
Some people may argue that competition is a necessary part of business. You may even think that it is naïve to think that competition doesn’t need to be the focus. I am not saying that you can ignore the fact that there may be someone doing something very similar to you. I simply suggest that you use any similarity to inspire you to showcase everything that is unique about you as a business owner and why you got started.
Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at www.SweetCloverStudios.com