Competitors: are you leading, following or competing?

Last week I was talking with someone about competition and creativity in his 20+ years in business. 

Along the way he had an opportunity to copy an idea from another supplier. Legally, he could have done it. Ethically, it didn’t feel right. So he took the first batch that he’d produced and threw it away. And went back to the drawing board to design his own.

Years later, he’s now the leading innovator in his industry. His company won best supplier in his industry for two years running and this year the product itself won an industry award.

His competitors are catching up with him now, there are many more varieties of this type of product on the market.

How is he viewing it?

As a sign that it’s time to innovate again. 

As he told me this story it was clear to me that he is a leader. He is leading the innovation in his industry. His competitors are not a threat because they are his followers. When they’ve finally caught up with him, that simply means it’s time to take the next step and create something new.

I don’t know about you, but that encouraged me.

And challenged me to think differently about what makes me feel threatened or under pressure, and ask myself:

Is there another way of looking at this? A way that will change how I feel – and crucially, how I respond? 

Do you get challenged, encouraged or threatened by competition?

Are you competitors a threat or a peer? Are they leading you or a following you? Do they block or stimulate your creativity?

What if you could serve others – your customers, your industry, your competitors even – as well as yourself, by leading the way and being encouraged rather than threatened when others follow you?

And what about other challenges or threats?

  • The irate customer who’s making personal snipes.
  • The new kid on the block who wants to ‘pick your brains’.
  • The demanding colleague, boss, partner or supplier who seems permanently stuck in rant mode.

How would you respond differently if you were to lead rather than react to them?

What if instead of threatening you they actually brought out the best in you?

Love to read your thoughts on this. Feel free to share a comment below…

  • Libby

    I see competition as healthy. There are now 50 private speech and language therapists who will see staffordshire clients not including my team. I make sure we are ahead of all of them!

    • Brilliant Libby, which means more people are getting the help they need and I bet you played your part in driving that growth 🙂

  • Catherine Poole

    There are a lot of transcription companies out there, but I don’t want to be one that does all and sundry transcription, nor do I particularly want to use associates (not at the moment, anyway!) – I would rather appeal to the type of person that wants their content to be as accessible as possible (probably coaches!) and that they can feel confident that one person is responsible for doing this.

    • Like it Catherine – in a not so competitive market it would probably be more tempting to spread yourself wider, but in a competitive market like yours, its your clarity and definition about exactly who you work with and what you do for them that makes you stand out and probably focuses your marketing efforts too.

  • I think competition is very healthy. It drives us to continuously up our game. It keeps us on our toes! Competitors don’t have to be enemies either – as someone who works with the owners of IT businesses, I have referred clients to my competitors and they speak well of me to others. Competition, especially friendly competition, is good!

    • Agreed Richard. I love collaborating with others in my industry – and indeed ended up partnering with one of my ‘competitors’.

  • naomirichards

    Competition shows that you are doing the right thing and there is a need for it. I think we all lead, follow and innovate at different times of our business.

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