28 Entrepreneurs Share Their Thoughts On How To Approach Competition

10. March 2014

You don’t want to compete. You want to dominate. You want to strive to become the leader in your space. This means you MUST do whatever it takes to become known. You need to come out of obscurity.

Let’s say your business is web design. You must become the expert in web design then use that expertise to gain attention for you, your brand and set yourself aside and get ahead of competition.

Use social media and most importantly pay attention to the content you share and make sure it offers valuable information or a nugget of expert advice. Quickly people will start looking at you as an expert in your field (the best, go-to person who KNOWS about this sector).

Look for associations and opportunities to speak about what you know. This will also drive business and get attention. Remember… Always dominate. Never compete.

@GrantCardone / Grant Cardone

Many companies obsess about the other guys. Why in the world would you name your business Seattle’s Best Coffee unless you were directly competing with Seattle, Washington based Starbucks?

My sense is that the various social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the like) are spending way too much time worried about the “competition” and not enough time worrying about their users.

For example, Google worries about Twitter. So Google eliminated the excellent real time search feature which had delivered tweets as part of Google search results. While tweets no longer appear, Google will happily show updates from Google+ in search results.

Who do you care more about – your customers or the competition? It you’re smart, it will be customers.

@DavidMeermanScott / New Rules of Marketing and PR

A process of continuous improvement is essential for any business growth. We live in a time when technology can create or negate markets overnight and the key to success is to adapt and improve.

Competition is the best motivator for you to become all you can be as a business. Staying one step in front of the best competitors is how we win races.

@TrevBlake / Trevor Blake

I see competition as a path to not take. In other words, I believe most entrepreneurs try to be better than their competition, but that’s a mistake, we need to be different than our competition.

For consumers it is very hard to differentiate between things and determine which one is better… so consumers will pick a preference and become loyal to it. But customers can instantly pick out something that is different…. and that is a big opportunity for us to sell.

@MikeMichalowicz / Mike Michalowicz

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you” – Satchel Paige

Focus your total attention on your customers and don’t worry about the competition.

@JoePulizzi / Content Marketing Institute

Competition is a necessary evil in any market you are either entering or trying to create. Competitors push you to be better, help validate and educate the market you are trying to address, and if you pay close attention, can drive you to focus on addressing the real problems you are trying to solve.

They can also be incredibly frustrating when they lie, copy and cheat their way into deals but those things are simply out of your control so ignore the noise and see the positive when that happens.

Take pleasure when a competitor attempts to copy features, it’s a reminder that you are keeping them up at night focusing on you instead of focusing on being innovative.

A few things I try to remember when it comes to competition:

– Know your competitors. Pay attention to their strategic signals and use that as guide to either break away to address different problems that you feel are more relevant/important or use it as inspiration to go solve the problem in a more valuable way for your customers.

– Don’t be afraid to reach out to your competitors customers and ask them what they like and dislike about their service. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you can learn in a 10-15 minute conversation.

– Don’t ever bad-mouth your competition or try and beat them on price, you will instantly diminish your perceived value. Instead, establish key differentiators and focus on your strengths while positioning any weaknesses as less important in solving the problem for the customers.

@BenSardella / Datanyze

Healthy competition is good because it encourages you to work harder and continue to improve. My advice to young entrepreneurs would be to be aware of your competitors, but don’t stress yourself about them. I have seen new entrepreneurs spend more time learning and analyzing their competitor’s business rather than focusing on improving their own.

Having a good relationship with your competitor can be beneficial because often there is room for you to grow together. You can learn from each other’s mistakes without giving up trade secrets. It also opens the door for future acquisition or merger.

@SyedBalkhi / WP Beginner

I can’t speak for brick-and-mortars or commodity businesses, but I’ve learned in running a blog-based, online business that “competition” is more a good thing than a bad one.

Without sites in the same niche, there’s nobody to link to you, nobody for you write a guest post for, and not a lot of other articles or happenings to inspire new content and products.

And I don’t hesitate to share good content I find from similar blogs, first because readers appreciate it, and second because it helps to grow a fledgling niche.

@MattFrazier / No Meat Athlete

Competition is a good thing. Google was not the first search engine. If no one is doing it yet it means you have to establish a market from scratch and convince people why they need it.

Whereas, if you have competition it means that someone has already validated that market, so you just have to focus on differentiation. How can you provide a much better experience?

For example, look at how Uber has changed taking a car or taxi. Don’t be afraid of competition, and don’t focus too much on it either. Instead think about your product and how you can provide an amazing experience for your users.

@kateMatsudaira / popforms

I view competition as a positive, motivating thing. First of all, it validates my market. If there was no one else in my space, I would be concerned that the market for my offering isn’t large enough to attract other competitors.

Second, it helps me set the rails for my own business by giving me external data points for what’s working and what’s not.

For an entrepreneur, falling in love with comfort can be the kiss of death. Having someone pushing you to get better is always helpful in avoiding the lull of complacency and stagnancy. When you run, it’s helpful to have someone running with you to help you keep pace when things get challenging.

In a similar manner, you can view competition as a motivator to keep you focusing on growing your business even when everything inside of you wants to settle-in and ride it out.

@ToddHenry / Accidental Creative

You’re looking at a $74 trillion global economy – so plenty of business to go around. Until you reach $10 million in revenue your only real barrier to success is you – dealing with your own issues, lack of knowledge, etc.

So ignore competition and stayed focused on establishing a beachhead of customers. For instance, Airbnb finally gained traction when the founders flew from California and camped out in New York City with their first 20+ customers and made sure the details were right – great photos, great descriptions, etc.

So, pick an initial small niche of customers, live with them, and get to your first $1 million in revenue.

@VerneHarnish / Gazelles

Competition is great and can be a powerful motivating force for young entrepreneurs. Our drive to compete with others can save us from growing complacent.

I’ve seen far too many companies that, after achieving some degree of success, rested on their laurels while newer, more innovative companies were able to successfully compete for their market share.

But it’s also important not to get so caught up in competing with others that it’s detrimental to your personal growth or the success of your company. Direct some of your competitive drive inward. Set clear growth metrics. And then, when you hit those goals, try to best yourself.

Think of yourself as an Olympic sprinter who’s not only trying to win the race, but also break your own world record. Often, pushing yourself to peak performance is the best way to leave the competition in the dust.

@HowardBrown / Ring DNA

I literally pay zero attention to competition. First, I’m in a space that has very little. Second, I’m much more focused on how I can serve my current clients and customers.

I do watch other people that do similar things to me but in different industries. I’ve found it’s much more educational to watch people that aren’t in competition with me because they’ll also be more willing to help me out and give advice.

@TimGrahl / Out Think Group

Competition can be motivating but you don’t want to focus too much on what they’re doing. Keep an eye on them but you want to focus on the things that you can control.

Although it might look like your competitors are totally kicking your butt, they could be imploding internally so there’s a lot of information that’s unavailable to you. The only full picture that you have is of your company.

@EricSiu / Single Grain

Too much focus on your competition stifles your creative juices, and almost guarantees you won’t be leading the pack.

Instead of focusing on what your competition is doing, find what makes you unique from your competition, and then run with that again, and again, and again.

@JesseMecham / You Need a Budget

The more the better! My viewpoint is that the more people in your niche – the more viable it is. If you don’t have any competitors there is probably not market demand.

I would like to add that there really is no competition – we each have a unique message to share and our own special contribution. To me – competition is not the issue to avoid, comparison is.

@BrandeeSweesy / Brandee Sweesy

Competition inspires you to innovate, change, create and eliminate complacency. It’s what will ultimately drive you to succeed. If you’re the only business in your field, the danger is you will rest on your laurels and take a “near enough is good enough” approach, which customers will not stand for.

When you have competition, you’re forced to compete for those customers. It always keeps you on your toes and drives you to be better. If Coca-Cola didn’t have Pepsi, it wouldn’t try so hard. If the Boston Red Sox didn’t have the New York Yankees, maybe they wouldn’t try so hard.

Competition brings out your best. Young entrepreneurs should embrace competition. Research your competitors. If you haven’t created a business yet but think you know what you want to do, go and work for who will be your future competitor first.

Learn everything about their business. What works, what doesn’t. Then break away and start your company. But always embrace competition. It’s what fuels success.

@JamesSwanwick / James Swanwick

First – you have to dismiss that competition is bad. In fact, just the opposite is true. If you want a sports analogy (even though I never watch sports!), what kind of fun would the Super Bowl be if only one team showed up?

The Olympics gymnastics competition if there was just one girl on the balance beam? Competition raises the bar for everybody. It makes service providers provide better service in order to get noticed.

It makes the products you produce better and better in order to stand out among companies who produce similar products. It even provides a scale for the consumer to recognize how well they are being served, and how beautifully made and functional the products that they buy are.

Plus, with 7 billion people in the world – there’s plenty of business to go around. Think of it in terms of coffee. What if the only choice we had was Bunn-O-Matic from McDonalds? Suddenly the world seems kind of gray and – um – Orwellian, doesn’t it?

But even in a small town, you can get coffee at McDonalds, Starbucks, the chic independent corner cafe, or the gas station. You have a choice. Everybody has a choice, and everybody makes a different decision.

For some people the gas station coffee is just fine, while others will drive miles out of their way to get a $5 gourmet cup. And if you feel another company or person is scoring the business you want – that means it’s time for YOU to get creative.

Check out the competition and see what they’re doing. What’s going on over there that’s making them so attractive? And once you figure it out, then you have the opportunity to create something better, more interesting, more innovative, and completely individual.

So be grateful for competition. Write them a thank you note! They are providing you with inspiration to become a better business, and the opportunity to create a world where everyone benefits.

@ErikaLyremark / Lyremark

Firstish: the fact that competition exists is a good thing — it leans toward there being an actual need for your product/service.

Seconly: competition has a gravitational field… keep your distance or you’ll get sucked into the habit of looking over the fence and watching everyone’s release schedule but your own.

Thirdle: I like doing a big competitive analysis sweep. Before I design a site I look at who’s out there, how many are they, what differentiates them from each other, what language are they using, what are their offerings, what comments and social interaction are they getting.

Fourthen: then I throw all the research away, scream “FUCK THE WORLD!” and put my head down, build my thing, serve my audience and pay attention to them alone… until I’m making enough to keep the lights on. (We get into this in an upcoming episode of The Fizzle Show).

@ChaseReeves / Fizzle

My personal belief regarding competetion is that if you follow your heart and create a business around something you really love, combined with working your ass off, there will be absolutely zero competition.

How can there be when the fact is that most people rarely take action, let alone have the balls to follow their hearts. So in my experience if you narrow your focus to those two things, take massive action on your most intimate ideas, you will live a life of success that is unique to you.

People will look at you with envy and come to you wanting your advice, and the funny part is that you could pour your heart out, and give them your deepest secrets that if applied would change their whole world. But almost none will step up and live the life that is calling them. I

n the popular song by Eminem called “Not Afraid” there is cool lyric that goes “You could read the words off of this paper before I say em, but you won’t take the sting out these words the way I lay em…” Perfect example, and an attitude you should adapt when you think of competition.

Thinking of competition is based on fear, and fear is based on ego. But if you act instead on the essence of what is trying to come through you everyday, putting your ego aside, you will realize that the idea of competition is just a mirage.

@NateBunger / Nate Bunger

It is crucial to know who your competition is and what they are up to. Things in business environment change constantly – make sure to be on top of that.

I very much appreciate competitors as it tends to keep me constantly on my toes. The best recipe for coexistence with any competition is working towards competitive advantage. Whilst not always easy to achieve, having unique business elements will get you ahead of the game.

@IzabelaRussell / Music Radio Creative

Competition is a good thing. It just re-enforces in my mind that what I’m doing is good, works and is a viable business idea. When I see another entrepreneur trying to do a similar thing as me I am always thinking positive thoughts for them as the more good there is in my industry the bigger the pie gets.

There will ALWAYS be enough work out there. The question is simply, “how much work do you want to go out and get today?”

@MikeRussell / Music Radio Creative

I think competition is a wonderful thing, but I rarely use that word to describe it. In our field of strengthening mothers and families, I think of other podcasters, writers, and program creators as “peers in our field” or “collaborators.”

When an entrepreneur pursues his or her passion in a way that brings a meaningful product to market, that is powerful. I love thinking in terms of abundance. There’s room for everyone to be a success.

@AprilPerry / Power of Moms

Competition is a tricky thing. It can either inspire you to take action and be your best, or it can bring you down and make you doubt yourself.

If you take the first point of view, then you can use your competition to rise above and create a company/brand/product that will stand out from the rest.

@AndreeaAyers / Launch Grow Joy

I try not look at my work in terms of “competition”. If someone has a similar project or e-book to mine, I don’t think, “How can I get people to buy mine instead?” but “How can I interest them in my book too?”

Chances are we both have a different angle, and a client or customer could benefit from both perspectives. I’d rather find an opportunity to collaborate with a rival, and pool our customer base, than ask people to make an either/or decision.

@saulofhearts / Saul of Hearts

Everyday Beardbrand has a new competitor pop up and it can get a bit overwhelming if we let it. The reality is that we can only control what we can control, and competition is not one of those things.

We try to be the leader in our market and that means we have to push the limit of service, products, and marketing. Many people will copy us and it’s very flattering.

Ultimately though, focus on your customers and forget about the competition.

@EricBandholz / Beard Brand

Especially when I was younger I had an intense focus on my competition and overtime this has changed. I now have the mentality that all ships rise in a rising tide.

I really don’t focus on my completion I try and focus on the health of my company. Healthy things grow, if you continue to take care of your company you will grow.

@ZechariahNewman / Zechariah Newman

I’m a competitive person by nature. To be competitive means you have a desire to compete. It’s a driving force that keeps me on top of my game and ahead of what’s happening in my market.

I thrive on being a market leader and an early adopter. So when I consider competition I see it as a healthy part of business. In terms of ‘competitors’ in my market, I don’t see that. I never feel like I have competition in what I do.

This is because I am ‘me’ and no-one else can be ‘me’. They can try, they can model how I do things but they can never, ever be ‘me’. The ‘me’ is my essence. It’s what makes me unique and stand out from others in my field.

Think of it like this… why do you go to the Doctor you go to when there’s at least 20 other Doctors in your suburb who are just as good? So, my advice to young entrepreneurs is… be yourself and let your essence be your guide.

@LudwinaDautovic / Ludwina