One of my small business coaching clients is deathly afraid that their competition will beat them, that they will get the sale, win the contract, get over the line before them. They see it as a disadvantage to themselves that they lose out. But what if fearing the competition is actually a competitive advantage to running a small business?
Keeps you motivated
I have to be honest, I sometimes use fear of competitors as my competitive advantage, and ultimately theirs, to motivate my clients. It works particularly well when they are being indecisive and I know that missing out or disappointing people is a key driver of theirs.
Often we can become caught up in our own head, our own doom, our own moping. Sometimes we need something to take our attention off of ourselves and to put it externally to motivate ourselves to move forward.
I want to put in a word of caution, these tactics work best when used sparingly and when we need to quickly ‘flip the switch’ on our thoughts and behaviours.
Keeps you in tune with what the market wants
When we check in with competitors, we hope to see them delivering what the market wants. Sometimes this is true. However, if we dig a little deeper and look at their social media comments and reviews we can see if this is actually the case. I can tell you that fearing a competitor who isn’t meeting the needs of the customers is not a competitive advantage.
When we look at the reviews and comments you can even see:
– what sort of customer service they offer
– if they are active on social media which indicates to customers their interest in marketing and growth
– gaps in product or service
– opportunities to improve market share, or
– places to focus efforts.
So when you watch a competitor you fear, remember to look at it as a way to achieve or get closer to your goals, and make sure that your actions align with your values (not theirs).
Keeps you focused on your end game or goal
When you’re worried about losing to your competitor, you better have a good idea of what you are actually losing. That means knowing where you’re headed, your goals, and how you planned on getting there.
There’s no competitive advantage in small business in doing things that don’t help you get to where you want to be. I’ve also been around enough underhanded competitors to know that they will throw outlines to see if they can reel you in but in reality, the bait you took isn’t actually part of their goals either. And there you’ve gone swallowing it hook, line, and sinker!
Fear invokes cortisol, a stress hormone. While there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, a peak of cortisol can sharpen your attention and help increase your blood sugar (generally in readiness to fight or flee).
In small business, this surge of cortisol can awaken your brain and sharpen your focus on the situation. This could make it easier for you, when used with the earlier points, to make a decision on how to use your competitor as your competitive advantage.
Final word on fearing your competitor as a competitive advantage in small business
The best way to achieve a competitive advantage in this situation is when you are:
– you ensure that you’re not making the same mistakes (especially social media mistakes) as they are making
– you are acting with you and your business’ best interest at heart and not out of vindictiveness or jealousy
– incredibly clear on what you want for your business
– your personal and business drivers
– you stay in alignment with your drivers, particularly your values.
I’d like to know if you use any of these strategies in your business? I admit that using social media to show gaps and opportunities is a handy competitive advantage.