Why Competition is Meaningless (and How Your ‘Competitors’ are Actually Your Best Teachers)
Somewhere on the side of the road, Morocco
“We’re all on the same path together, guiding one another. And this understanding brings compassion.” – Dan Millman
How many of you have ever let the idea of something stop you – before you ever even started?! Got excited about doing something, trying something or going somewhere and then talked yourself out of it before you ever even got out the door?
Sadly, this happens all too often…
Killing possibilities before there is even a chance of survival is an absolute tragedy in our opinion. And this is why we are so thankful for all the messages that we receive at LYL because it gives us a window into your world – what you are thinking, where you need help and what your biggest hurdles are.
We’ve received messages like this over and over again…
“I love the idea of turning my side project into some cash flow, but there are so many people already out there doing this better than I could ever do it with my limited time… It won’t ever work.”
“I really want to start a business doing X but there is SO much competition in the space, how will I ever make it?”
“I’d love to help others with X, but aren’t there already a lot of people out there doing that?”
We thought so.
When You Face Your Fears, Freedom Awaits
Competition is something that is often viewed as a bad thing but today we want to turn that belief on it’s head and reframe the idea of competition – because we actually think it’s one of the most useful opportunities out there!
But first a story from one of my all-time favorite food blogs, Minimalist Baker…
In 2012, John and Dana Shultz were working to make ends meet. John was finishing up law school – a course he only pursued because it seemed like the next most natural step in his career – while Dana was working odd jobs here and there.
They did what we believe should be the first step in anyone’s self discovery process – they started a blog. That blog covered many topics, from lifestyle to food to health to fitness. They were throwing out ideas, exploring their interests and learning what they did and did not like. What started as a fun side passion project, turned into a blog that was actually starting to gain some traction!
But it wasn’t ultimately going to succeed in the way they hoped because it lacked focus and meaning. They really wanted to do something that genuinely mattered to them in their own unique way, and provided the lifestyle they wanted (and were not living in their current situation). So one day over Chipotle, Dana and John came up with a different idea. An idea that was simpler, more focused and honed in on their superpowers (which were likely unveiled through the experimenting they did with their first blog), and a few days later Minimalist Baker was born…
Note, this was in 2012. By that time, there were thousands of successful food bloggers out there (according to Technorati.com, in May of 2012 there were 16,588 food blogs). There were people who were bringing in $30K/month from cooking, taking pictures and sharing them with the world; people who had written multiple published cookbooks; people who were living incredible lifestyles by sharing their passions and talents with the world!
Now, for some, trying to start something when there are so many successful people already out there can be kind of intimidating. So much so, that people decide to let it stop them before they even start! Which is actually the only guaranteed route to failure…. The only way to be 100% certain you’ll fail is to is to never start!
But Dana and John decided not to let fear hold them back. They had no “formal” training in cooking, photography, writing or the many other skills it takes to run an online business, but they went for it anyway. And today they have over 250,000 followers on Instagram alone and their first print cookbook will be released this year!
So, clearly there was some space in the food blogging world…
And my taste buds are oh-so happy on a weekly basis that they didn’t let the “idea” of competition stop them.
*Note: If you are interested in learning more about their story, check out their Founder Story in Fizzle to hear more about where and how they started and how they work together as a husband and wife team.
Competition is a Concept
This idea of the ‘marketplace being saturated’, there ‘being too much competition’ (or however you want to put it) are all just big fat excuses. These are simply stories that we tell ourselves to be true so that we have an out. So that we can move away from the discomfort that might be caused by stepping out of our comfort zone.
Simply put, giving up is always the easy way out…
Our minds will tell us all kinds of reasons that we can’t.
- Too young
- Too old
- Too rich
- Too poor
- Too inexperienced
- etc, etc.
The excuse list goes on but we’ve also seen someone from every one of these situations overcome them.
Think Differently to be Revolutionary
True innovation is no longer the only way. These days, those who turn out successful often take something already in existence (whether that’s an existing marketplace, product, industry, etc.) and add a small twist to what is already out there.
- Minimalist Baker: Were there food blogs that already existed? Yes, thousands! But they said, ‘We like to cook simply so all our recipes are going to be 1 bowl, 10 ingredients or 30 minutes or less.’ Not necessarily revolutionary – but they certainly are!
- Uber: People need rides places. Many people have cars. Simply put, all Uber did was pair these two into a place where the people needing could easily connect with the people offering. Seriously, how did it take so long to come up with that?! Well because taxi’s were the only way for decades. That was a market that was ‘fixed’ – well, until it wasn’t!
- Airbnb: Same thing. They took existing resources – apartments and houses that sit vacant while people are away – and turned them into an alternative option for lodging for travellers. Brilliant! And I love that this provides an opportunity to leverage resources that already exist. I don’t think I need to even get into their competition – the hotel industry, a $550 billion dollar market. Try going head on into that one!
But I am so glad these companies did. My life is better on a weekly basis because all these visionaries decided not to let competition stand in their way!
So let’s dig into this idea of competition, why it is meaningless and how your competitors are actually your best teachers.
Reframing Competition: Why Your Competitors Are Actually Your Best Teachers
1. If there’s someone else in the space, you have a model!
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Gandhi
Being the very first to do something takes tremendous strength, perseverance and resilience. When Steve jobs first envisioned everyone having a personal computer, he was laughed at, told he was foolish and that it would never happen.
Today, not only do we have them at home, we carry them around with us all day in our pockets, and now on our wrists! Global mobile device usage has grown to a massive 4.6 billion people that are basically addicted to these products.
So instead of seeing someone in your space as a competitor, thank them for paving the way! You don’t have to walk that road alone. You have someone to look at, to model, and to learn from.
When you look at it this way, you’ll see that they are not your enemy, they are actually your ally!
2. If there’s someone else in the space, it means there’s a market!
“It’s the possibility that keeps me going, not the guarantee.” – Nicholas Sparks
We talk a lot about experimenting here at LYL – testing things out, not only to uncover more of your true self (your needs, your desires, your interests) but also as a way to discover what resonates with those around you.
If you offer to help your friends garden and find yourself booked up every weekend, you might have your next business! If you offer to help your friends sort their nickels and dimes and no one signs up, you may want to reconsider your offering…
So, if you have a ‘competitor’, they have done the testing for you! They are proving to you that there are customers out there not only interested in what you want to offer, but actually buying it! Why are we inspired by the people we follow online or social media (travel bloggers, artists, foodies, etc.)? Because they show us what’s possible!
So turn your fear of there ‘not being enough space’ into gratitude and you have a whole new perspective which opens up a whole new set of opportunities.
Note: This does not give you permission to just copy what others have done. Be you (see below!). Find your unique offering. Give even more value. Offer help in a way that no one else is. Be memorable!
3. No one can ever be YOU!
“You are here to enable the divine purpose of the Universe to unfold. That is how important you are!” – Eckhart Tolle
You are uniquely you. You have unique gifts, talents, thoughts, ideas and opinions – and once you come back to that place where you are listening to what matters to you (not what society says), then the idea of competition becomes meaningless.
And I invite you to stop that self-doubt talk that might be creeping into your head right now… There is literally only one version of you on this entire planet – and that in and of itself means you are unique. Beyond that it also means that no one can do anything exactly the way that you can. Literally no one can offer what you can or help someone (even if it is just one person) the way you can. How cool is that?!
This is why we suggest people ask their friends and family what they are good at (we even have an email template here) because often times we don’t see ourselves as the unique individuals that we actually are.
You have something to offer that only you can – and the world will be better if you do. We suggest you find it and then use it to serve someone else!
4. They give you an idea of what you don’t want to do.
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael LeBoeuf
How many of you have companies or products that you admire but think: “Gosh, they really sell too hard!” or “Their customer service is terrible!”?
Well once again, it’s time to thank them! What you don’t like about other companies, whether they are in your space or not, is your reminder of what you don’t want in your business or how you don’t want to act in your own job.
And as we said a few weeks ago, it’s hard to know what you do want if you don’t know what you don’t want. So anytime you are having a customer experience that doesn’t totally jive with you, let that be a guide for what you want to do differently moving forward.
5. If you are constantly learning and growing, you will never need to worry about competition.
“True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else, it is about being better than you used to be.” – Portia de Rossi
You see if you are constantly learning and growing, expanding your mind, your knowledge, your perspective, the ways you help others, etc. you will never have to worry about competition.
Well… as long as you actually do something with that knowledge! Remember execution and action are far more important than anything else you’ll do. You can be the smartest guy or gal in the world, but if you don’t ACT, if you don’t do something with that knowledge, you will never get anywhere.
And if you take consistent action, you’ll never even need to think about competition because you will be miles ahead of the majority who only talk about the things they want to do instead of act on the things they want to do!
That being said, if you are constantly learning and growing, even if someone looks at you and says ‘I am going to be just like you!’ Their only shot is to be who you were – because you will never be the same version of who you are today.
The people who make a living from their passions are the people who insist on doing so. Not the people who kind of want to… So, if you stay hungry, you will find a way. You will constantly evolve. And if you are always evolving, you will continually help people in new and different ways.
Learn. Execute. Repeat.
Note: By learning and growing we do not necessarily mean you have to sign up for a new conference every other month. A big part of learning is scheduling stillness so you can learn about and listen to yourself!
6. If you truly come from a place of giving, competition does not exist.
“People who receive the most approval are unconcerned about it. So if you really want approval, stop thinking about yourself and focus on helping others.” – Tony Robbins
If what you are offering or trying to do comes from the place of genuinely helping people rather than serving yourself, competition simply does not exist.
Let’s say you really care about people getting fit and healthy so you start a blog about helping people with tips, recipes, workout ideas, etc. If you realize that your true mission is to help people be fitter, healthier and happier then it doesn’t necessarily matter how many clicks or shares your post gets. Even if you help one person, you have succeeded!
Yes, eventually you may want to start implementing some tactics that help to grow your passion or project but if you do not start from an authentic place – a place of giving, you are starting from a rocky foundation… and I think we have all see how that story ends up.
Be genuine. Give massively. Care about the change that you want to create. When you intelligently align your purpose with helping others rather than for your own achievement, the rest tends to sort itself out along the way.
Competition is The Only Thing to Give up On
This is a simple yet powerful idea. And I personally am ridiculously happy that Minimalist Baker, Uber and Airbnb didn’t let competition stop them. My life is literally better, more convenient, and more fun because of it.
And I bet you have some examples too. What services do you use and love that put the kibosh on competition? Aren’t you happy they did?!
There are examples everywhere you look of people breaking through every excuse you can imagine, so do yourself (and those around you) a favor and don’t stop before you have even started…
And now that you’ve realized that competition is no longer an excuse… What will you do?
– Chelsea Dinsmore
*We are a proud affiliate partner of Fizzle because we truly believe what they’ve built is the most useful, high quality and well-run community and training for online entrepreneurs we’ve ever seen! And you can sign up for a free trial run to test it out. Winning!