How to Best Learn from Your Competition

It’s been a rough day. All your time was completely taken up taking care of a bedridden 3 year old with a bad cold. As much as you wanted to tackle your to-do list, there was no way fit anything in between making chicken soup, wiping boogers, and cuddling your sweet baby.

The house is finally quiet and you swipe on your phone before heading to bed. Your heart sinks as you scroll through your Instagram feed. All your competitors seem so put together. They all posted new product shots, glamorous selfies, and exciting news. And here you are, sitting on the couch at 10pm, wearing the same t-shirt you woke up in. Covered in boogers and chicken soup.

We all do this to ourselves. And we all need to stop. We have nothing to gain from comparing and putting ourselves down. Part of knowing your brand is knowing your competition, but you first have to navigate past the tendency to compare yourself and all negative feelings that come with that. Here are four steps to help you move past the negativity so you can learn from those around you.

1. Stop calling them competitors. Start calling them peers.
Thinking of other businesses in your industry as a threat will either keep you on the defensive or make you totally cut-throat. Neither is great for your soul, your business, or your ideal client. Your brand can thrive when you’re liberated from both trying to keep up with and trying to obliterate the competition.

Thinking of them as peers instead opens up all kinds of positive feelings and creates opportunity. It fosters community and support. It encourages sharing knowledge and resources. It opens the doors for collaboration and building one another up. And it all starts with the words we use to talk about one another.

2. Stop comparing yourself. Start appreciating others’ success.
Remember that even the businesses with thousands of loyal followers, a steady flow of clients, and an amazing brand started off just like you. Don’t feel bad about not being there yet. It took them as much hard work as it’s taking you. They’re just a bit further along. And you have what it takes to get there too.

Instead of putting yourself down when you see someone else’s success, look at that success as your future and celebrate. Pay attention to what they’re doing right and realize that it probably took them a lot of trial and error to figure out what works. Step back and admire what they’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

3. Stop copying. Start applying principles.
Once you’re able to admire your peers’ success, it might be tempting to copy exactly what they do. If it’s working for them, it should work for you, right? Not necessarily. Even if your offerings and ideal clients are really really similar, your brand is uniquely different. You don’t want to copy exactly what your peers do because it might not fit your brand.

Instead, look for broader principles you can put your own twist on. Where are they the most active? What kinds of posts do they get the most attention for? What tone do they use in their writing? How do they make their clients feel special? Principles are something you can take and make your own. And your ideal client will love to see your unique voice shining through.

We’re all in this together. Let’s stop the negativity and start supporting one another. We have so much to gain from putting the comparisons aside and rechanneling that energy into building up the community instead. We have so much to learn from each other. 

Your action steps for the week:

  1. Make a list of 5 peers you can start supporting.
  2. Be on the lookout for successes you can celebrate.
  3. Reach out and send a virtual high-five!
  4. Start noticing and writing down principles you can use.
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