How to Overcome the Fear of Competition
Competition in business is unavoidable. Putting aside the fact that it is near impossible to come up with a business idea that has never been done before, even if you start a completely unique business, somebody will want a piece of it. People are savvy and quick, and sooner or later, they will all catch onto your big idea.
On the other hand, if your research has found that you might be entering a market already saturated with businesses and experts, it might put a little block on your entrepreneurial dreams. Am I ready for this? Can my business survive the competition? How can it stand out amongst the thousands of business just in my city alone?
Don’t let this fear stop you from starting your business journey! There are a number of different ways to approach the competition you have to battle against. And depending on the way you look at it, it might actually be the best thing for the sustainability of your business.
Competition is unavoidable.
Firstly, let’s reiterate the truest thing about the nature of business. The existence of competition is absolutely unavoidable. Even if your business idea involves a physical location that is almost completely isolated from the large population (e.g. a small country town), there is bound to be some competition. It could be another business of a similar nature opening up in your area, or a multinational company that already covers your town. If you can’t avoid it, enjoy it, right? And there are several ways to make the most out of your competition.
A good amount of competition is healthy.
Competition in a market is healthy. It is the driving force behind economy by, most of the time, creating efficient and fair markets that are “essential for catalyzing private sector development and economic growth” as explained by Nick Godfrey in his paper for the OECD Global Forum on International Investment. Addressing the competition policy in relation to growth and poverty reduction, and especially their importance in the developing world, Godfrey noted that “competition facilitates greater equality of opportunity by breaking down the barriers to fair competition that often help to protect incumbent elites.” With the support of appropriate and fair government policies, competition can actually drive the productivity of the industry you’re about to enter. After all, you wouldn’t want to enter a market that plants barriers to entry or that you’re not allowed to enter at all.
Competition forces you to grow.
Contending against your competitors can force your business to grow. In fact, it can force the whole industry to grow, hand in hand with other related industries. In order to survive and thrive against competition, you are always looking for the new innovative ways of doing the things that you and your competitors have all been doing. Through this creative process, you can push your business further, while also contributing to the development of the whole industry. Just think about it. By innovating your business, you’re actually contributing to the advancement of humanity!
You can learn from your competition.
Just as others can learn from your business and take it as their own, you can do the same with your competition. In fact, learn something that your competitors are doing, own it, develop it and make it even better. This process is precisely what’s mentioned above, the driving force behind innovation, productivity and economic growth. An even better way you can benefit from your competition is learning what not to do. Watch and avoid the mistakes that your competitors have made in their advertising and marketing, business model, recruitment and more.
Competition can be managed.
Just because your competitors can copy your ideas and do it better than you, it doesn’t mean that it always has to be that way. Competition is only relevant to those that participate, which means that you can remove yourself from the competition. Of course, the more you participate, the more relevant you become in your industry, and more well-known if done right. This means that selecting your niche is more important than ever. By understanding your business and your competitors, you can choose to participate or not in certain aspects of the competition. For example, say you’re in the fashion industry, selling shoes in your physical store and online. A few of your competitors have launched a line selling costume shoes. Does this mean that you need to participate and start selling them in order to catch up to your competitors? No, you can focus on developing your own niche instead!
Not every competitor is your enemy.
Competition doesn’t always mean that you’re pitted against each other, wishing for each other’s failure. As explained above, healthy competition can actually be beneficial for the growth and sustainability of your business and its industry. Even better, there is also the possibility of partnering up with your competitors. You can have a referral relationship with another business that focuses on another particular niche that your business doesn’t serve. You can also consider having an exclusive relationship with a relevant supplier. What you once thought was your enemy that could potentially ruin your business can become an opportunity to take your business to the next stage.
Just because it’s been done, doesn’t mean you can’t do it better.
This point has been made throughout this article, but it’s important to reiterate. Just because something has been done before, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it, or do it better! There are new restaurants opening up everyday even though there are already millions out there. On Lygon Street, the Italian precinct of Melbourne in Carlton, VIC, the dozens of Italian restaurants located side by side still do just as well as each other. However, there are always those that are more popular and stand out from the crowd. You just need to find that special something that helps your business become one of a kind.
Competition isn’t something to fear or avoid as much as possible. Done well, competition can actually drive the productivity and growth of your business. Don’t let the fear of competition stop you from pursuing your goal. Instead, turn your fear into your key to success. Start with a competitive analysis and find your special thing that will set you apart.