Michael Corleone of The Godfather popularized the phrase “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” However the phrase was originally coined by Machiavelli, the guy who’s pretty much synonymous with dictatorship. It’s not only a little harsh to think of your competition as your enemy, but it’s counterproductive as well.
You might think that in a perfect world, you would stand alone and be the sole provider of what you do. No competition equals automatic success, right? Interestingly, that’s not the case. In fact, the more you embrace your competition and find ways to create relationships with other organizations in your industry, the more success you’ll enjoy. Here’s why…
competition makes you stronger
It’s true. Competition is the bedrock of your success. It makes you work smarter and faster, and keeps you on your toes and focused. It forces you be creative, responsive and agile. It’s what keeps an eye on the future while paying attention to today. Monopolies tend to breed complacency. Competition makes you monitor quality control closely and prioritize customer and employee satisfaction regularly.
competition provides a benchmark for success
Competition provides the context within which you can measure your progress and against which you can truly monitor your weaknesses and measure your success. Having competitors means there’s more than one company out there marketing your goods and services, creating more consumer awareness of what it is you do and more demand for your services. In other words, competition is good for business.
competition breeds innovation
Competition helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, which then leads to innovation and creative problem solving. And that’s when real growth and development happen. It’s also the impetus smart organizations use to continually create value for their clients and customers. In a disruptive age, companies who use competition to stoke the fire in their bellies thrive. Those who don’t innovate become obsolete or get bought out by large organizations with a vision.
competition is good for customers
Competition provides opportunities for consumers to choose products and manufacturers that fit their unique criteria. Competition helps control prices, improve products and service quality, and enhance delivery. It forces companies to keep customer satisfaction at the forefront of their business decisions and planning.
competitors have shared goals
Your competitors are your peers. They share many of the same goals and pain points; no-one understands the pressures and challenges of your industry like someone in the same industry. That’s makes them an ideal ally because together, even while keeping an eye on each other, you create best industry practices and standards that benefit everyone. And that’s good for your brand.
you can learn from competition
We’re not suggesting you monitor and copy everything your competitors are doing; that would be reactive, not active, and focused on them and not your own business. They’d be driving your business, not you. Not good if you want to grow your business. But what better way to see what works and what doesn’t, risk-free, than by watching your competitors closely, paying attention and learning from their experience? Remember, they’re watching you closely too.
So how can you turn your competitive frown upside down and harness the energy strong competition evokes? First, change starts in the mind. Instead of thinking of competition as a soul-sucking burden, let it energize and inspire you. Most people have a competitive streak of some degree, even those who claim otherwise. Remember, the urge to compete against a peer or personal best is what drives top performers whether they’re athletes, executives, plumbers or line workers.
Competition breeds opportunity. You may never love competing but in time, and with the right attitude, you can come to respect and appreciate the qualities it brings out in your business, your employees, your clients and, yes, you.