You’ve made it past the tendency to negatively compare yourself to your peers and jumped at the chance to learn from them. But now your Instagram feed is full of variations of the same photo over and over.
You know the one. It’s that overly-styled flat-lay with a bright notebook and a plate of macaroons that no one really believes just happened to be casually laying way too close to that MacBook.
It’s great to follow other businesses and glean everything you can. But the whole point of paying attention to your peers is to learn a wide array principles you can tweak and apply to your own business.
You can maximize the things you learn by being intentional about who you’re looking to. Including a diverse range of businesses is the best way to make sure you’re getting different perspectives and a good variety of principles to think about.
So how can you make sure you have a diverse group to learn from? Start by making a list of 5 to 10 businesses for each of these three categories:
1. Businesses in your industry.
These are probably your most obvious peers and you may already have a good idea of who they are. They’re the businesses doing almost exactly what you’re doing and you have so much to learn from them!
Think about your goals and try to find the businesses that have reached what you’re striving for. Choose the ones you like the most, but make sure to include diverse styles, price points, and approaches to business.
It’s ok to include some big names on this list, just make sure the businesses your size outnumber the giants. The big brands operate on a whole different level (hello, 30-person marketing teams!). While there’s a lot you can learn from them, you’ll find more valuable principles in the businesses closer to your size.
2. Businesses in related industries.
This is where finding your peers really beats just looking at the competition.Looking at related industries gives you a bigger picture view of how you fit into the market and your ideal client’s life. And that gives you so much more opportunity for learning than just focusing on your competition.
To find your peers in related industries, go back to the ideal client profile you created a couple of weeks ago. How does your ideal client spend her time? Who does she like and follow? Also think about how your ideal client uses your product. What else might she be using alongside it? What other brands fit into her routine with you?
Narrow this list down to the businesses that most closely share your ideal client. Follow them on social media and take every opportunity to engage with them. You may be surprised at how easy it is to find new friendships and opportunities by engaging with these brands.
3. Businesses with other similarities.
Looking at seemingly unrelated businesses will broaden your scope even more. It will give you a good mix of principles to apply so that your ideas can move beyond what’s being played out in your industry.
This isn’t about picking out random businesses, though. When you choose businesses for this category, search for similarities that build a deeper connection. You may want to find other businesses run by mompreneurs who value wellness and have a laid back casual style. Even if they offer something totally unrelated to your product, you’ll learn from them because you’re operating from a similar foundation.
Whoever you choose to include on these lists, the point is to start looking beyond your obvious industry peers. Broaden your scope and include businesses whose brands resonate with you and your ideal client.
You’re looking for principles to apply, but you can also use this as an opportunity to start building your support community, make friends, and add value to other brands. We all win when we all try to build each other up.
Your action steps for the week:
- Make a list of 5-10 businesses you can learn from in each category.
- Follow them on the social media channel your business is most active on.
- Start looking for and writing down principles you can apply to your own business.
- Look for opportunities to engage and act on them!