By: Lane’ Richards, Wedding Pro Coaching
Do you think of your competition as someone to fear? With the constant feeling that you have to compare yourself to them? Or maybe you watch their every move, picking apart everything they do and anticipating their steps until you can no longer focus on your own business? When they do the one thing you’ve always wanted to do, how do you react? You may have had a bad experience with a competitor “stealing” your ideas, or worse yet, plagiarizing your website or even your brand. This can naturally leave you feeling complacent. It might even make you want to keep tabs on them even more.
These are all normal feelings. But while normal, they’re not always in your best interests. You may have a naturally curious personality, but you still have to stay relevant and true to who you are both as a person and a business owner. A little friendly competition doesn’t hurt anyone, when it’s done positively. When you approach competition from a healthier position, you’re paving the way to invaluable connectedness. You’re ultimately helping to foster growth for both of you but also keeping your sanity.
So what can you do to turn your unhealthy competitor relationships into positive ones? Let’s take a closer look at some ideas below.
Own Your Identity & Stop the Comparison Game
In Seth Godin’s book, The Purple Cow, he talks about not being afraid of being you and to “be remarkable”. The only way to cut through what everyone else is doing and to stand out amongst others in a sea of sameness is to own who you are. While it’s important to know and understand your competition, you don’t want to be your competition. Don’t allow what you know about your competition to jade your business decisions. Remember, what works for them may not necessarily work for you!
One marketing strategy is to understand what your top 3-5 competitors are doing but only so you can stay ahead of the game. You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses within your competitors allowing you to figure out what the gap is. When you do this, you’re able to better customize your services filling the void you identified.
You will feel far better about your business if you support your competitors, building relationships with them. When you partner together, you’re creating a trusted ally. You’ll both benefit from shared resources without feeling the need to steal ideas and in turn damage your credibility. Besides, isn’t it easier working with someone you have a synergistic relationship with?
Also, think about it this way… you never know if an opportunity were to come up to merge or acquire your competitor. You don’t want to burn bridges and miss out on a chance to expand your business.
There’s More Than Enough Work to Go Around
How many times have you had to turn away business because you’re already booked? Or maybe it’s just not a good fit whether it’s because of your brand or price? When you’re able to refer a prospective client to your competition you’re providing a higher level of service. We are here to serve our clients. What better way to do so than to recommend them to someone you’ll know that’ll take exceptional care of them when you’re not able to take them on as a client? Besides, they’ll likely remember the fact that you sent them to your competition. They’ll appreciate it so much, they’ll want to do business with you and come back at a later date.
Think of the Positives, Not the Negatives
It might be easy to want to bad-talk your competition, but this is a big no-no. The wedding industry can sometimes feel like high school. Everyone knows everyone, some form cliques and some are more popular. But that doesn’t mean you have to spread gossip and be chatty about something your competitor did in order to win over others. This is highly unprofessional and reflects negatively against you. Bad talking your competitors can also be a sign of fear. When you’re confident with what you do, you don’t need to discredit others.
The same is true if someone else may be talking badly about your competitor. It may feel like an opportune time to throw your two cents in. Instead, take control of the conversation. Put a stop to it right then and there. Let the person know how small the industry is and you want to maintain a positive working relationship with everyone. Negativity can bring you both down, so instead why not say something nice (or don’t say it at all).
If you look hard enough, you’re always going to find someone who you feel is doing it bigger and better. So step out of that space. Anytime you start to go down that unhealthy path of comparison and judgment, shift your focus to working on your own business. Save yourself the time and energy and apply it to something of greater value - you!
Lane’ Richards is a multidisciplinary entrepreneur and owner of Wedding Pro Coaching, offering mastermind business coaching and educational programs to wedding industry professionals who need help building, running, and growing their businesses in the crowded wedding industry.