The Truth about Competition

If you’re running any kind of business chances are you have competition (unless your business is so incomparably niche that you’re totally on your own… there’re very few companies making literary inspired dog hats!).

I have “competition” in both parts of my business, from people creating awesome websites for creative entrepreneurs & small business owners, to other fantastic designers making jewellery and homewares.

Some of my “competition” achieves much greater sales and success than my business, and some is where my business was a couple of years ago. (Always someone in front, always someone behind). Most of my immediate “competition” is pretty much playing in the same league as me, though.

Competition is a made up concept to create mistrust, secrecy and dirty tactics in business.

At least that’s the way I’ve come to see it.

I don’t like the word or concept of competition. I don’t like seeing fledgling businesses thinking that “competing” with other businesses is the way to make their business stand out. And I REALLY don’t like archaic idea that your competition is your enemy.

Flashback Time

*Read this with a sepia filter*

A few years ago, when I first started doing craft markets and fairs for my jewellery, there was a bit of a culture of traditional competition rising in the ranks. People were very secretive with information, especially regarding on-the-day sales and how well they were doing. People would out and out lie to their “competition” about how well they’d done on the day. It made me uneasy. I didn’t know why back then, but I do now – it’s totally skeazy and such an old-hat way of doing business. They were trying to make other businesses, who they viewed as their competition, think the following…

“If they did so well and I didn’t, does that mean that my product isn’t as good as theirs?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered coming…”

“It’s obviously not a good fit for my product…”

“I should just leave it to them”

Trying to eliminate your competition does NOT increase your chance of sales.

Lying about how well they did on the day doesn’t stand to make them any more by way of sales, all it does is remove the discussion of “damn, if neither of us did very well, what can we do to make this better for both of us?”.

In the long run it just stands to harm what could be a thriving community of small businesses.

Luckily, I see this happen a lot less nowadays. People have started having each other’s backs again, and it’s fucking awesome.

Rearrange your view of Competition

Here’s how I like to view “competition”…

  • Competition is not the enemy, that’s number 1. Sure, they might be aiming at the same people, but there’s plenty to go around.
  • Competition increases your chance of business. Every piece of marketing they do for their business puts your industry in front of people’s eyes.
  • Competition helps you up your game. Can you imagine how complacent you’d be in your business if you didn’t have other people to look up to? It would be shit. You’d still be dragging your knuckles.
  • Competition helps you serve your audience. Your competition is you, you’d probably get on like a house on fire, what can you do together to serve your audience better?
  • Competition helps you understand your audience better. Seeing your audience interact with another business is enlightening, you can learn so much from them.
  • Wouldn’t you rather build your business based on value and awesomeness than competition? Being the best at what you do clears your field of traditional “competition” and lets you enjoy working alongside a bunch of equally successful and interesting businesses.

I’m not into woo-woo stuff, but I still believe that you’ll get so much more out of making friends rather than enemies. 


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  • Great post! Lots of good points.

    You’re so right re:
    Competition increases your chance of business. Every piece of marketing they do for their business puts your industry in front of people’s eyes.

    By day I work at a large UK website and our main competitor spent millions on TV advertising. We benefitted a HUGE amount from it too. So much we never, ever, do it. Or need to.

    Hannah x