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My word for this week is Competition!

“Competition whose motive is merely to compete, to drive some other fellow out, never carries very far. The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time.”—Henry Ford

When I meet with clients or talk with business owners about their companies, one of the first questions I ask is, “Who are your biggest competitors?”

I ask this because, in most cases, I know what their answer will be. Many say, “Oh, our product or service is so unique that we don’t really have any competition.” Others will say, “We are too busy focusing on what we do to worry about any competitors.”

I smile…then I cringe.

Every business has competition. When you walk into a client’s office or talk with them on the phone, there was someone who met with them an hour before you, and someone will be meeting with them an hour after you. Your competitors likely know your strengths and weaknesses, and they are telling your client or prospect why they are better than you.

To me, the lack of understanding by business owners of their direct and indirect competitors is the single biggest crack in the foundation of their game plans for success. We have all received client phone calls that start with, “I’m sorry, but we are pulling our business from your company…”

Their words are immediately followed by an audible THUD, which is like a 2×4 piece of wood slamming into the back of your head, because that critical client just told you, out of the blue, they are moving their business to a competitor you never knew you had up until that moment.

Competition is a constant, unyielding force. It requires business owners to sharpen their strategic focus and keep two fingers on the pulse of the marketplace. You need to know: What companies are entering your market? Who is introducing a new product or service? Who is hiring, and who is laying staff off?

If you want to outsmart your competitors, it’s imperative to understand your market better than anyone else. You need to ask hard questions and look critically at your own operations. What can we do that our competitors can’t? Where can we add more value? These questions should be part of every strategic ‘GPS plan’ that guides your business to its desired destination.

Innovation is born from the pressures of competition. Use it as a catalyst to drive creativity and improvement in your products and services. Think of your main competitor as a sparring partner, helping you practice, improve, and sometimes pivot in directions you never considered before.

Lastly, embrace competition as a powerful motivator. It’s a force that compels us to evolve, innovate, and, above all, continually strive for excellence.

Read your playbook, learn how to beat your competition, and step into the arena.

Brian Moran

Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

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