Competition week, part 3

Philip Morgan

What impresses me most when we look at the 58.1% of y'all who said "no, competition doesn't concern me" is the underlying sense of confidence I see throughout your elaborations on why it doesn't concern you.Here are a few select examples:

  • "There are too few companies and Consultants doing what I do correctly."
  • "There's room for everyone and we all have diverse talents. It's just a matter of making them known. "
  • "I figure there are plenty of people to go around, plus I've had customers say they've gone through other people's material before buying mine. I used to worry about the cheap/big competition (in my case, Udemy). A smart friend of mine said "Your competition is not Udemy; your competition is the back button, or them never even finding you in the first place." It's taken a while to adjust my mindset but now I look at other teachers in my space like we're all in it together."
  • "In general, I think I offer a lot more value at my price point. For customers who want what I sell, I can do a better job. If they decide to go with someone else, well, maybe I'll see them in the future after they have less than satisfactory results. In areas where I can't compete -- for instance, maybe the customer wants an established brand -- there's nothing I can do about it. That's not my customer. I also know most of my competitors and they're good guys. I've found that kindness to them often gets repaid, or at least generates goodwill and keeps communication channels open. Keep your friends close and competitors closer."
  • "Because I'm nicheing down in what I think is a fairly different (and what I hope will be delightfully refreshing) approach to solving my client's problems, that makes it a space my competitors can't really play in the way I can. Also, I don't need or want EVERYONE to want to work with me, just the right people."
  • "I know I’ll always be able to find work, so competition is only interesting from the point of market research "
  • "Our market is HUGE. Even if we niche down to a vertical."
  • "It’s a big world out there, and most of my competition is competing on price. I don’t want the clients who shop on price anyways, so they help clear the way to the clients I’d rather have."
  • "Not particularly.  My experience and the services and products I offer my clients are unique to me. No competitor can really offer "exactly" what I offer, because they aren't me.  I also honestly feel like there is enough work out there for everyone. I don't have a scarcity mindset.  I don't ignore competitors completely.   I may look at what similar businesses in my space our doing or offering to see if that's something that would be beneficial to my clients, but I'm not going to worry about what they are doing. They have their own goals and challenges which are likely different than my own. I'm better off keeping my eyes on my own path. "

I'd be devilishly curious to witness a conversation between someone who is concerned about competition, and someone who is not. I could imagine it going something like this:"Aren't you worried about low-cost overseas competition?""No, I don't want price-shopping clients anyway, not even as prospects. I'm happy they have somewhere else they can get their price-sensitive needs fulfilled.""But those cheaper competitors can build the same software you can! Won't your clients eventually wise up and go with a cheaper option?""No, because those cheaper competitors promise to build the same thing, but I've cleaned up enough of their messes to know they can't really do it, at least not often enough to pose a real threat to me."I'm sympathetic to those who are concerned about competition, but I'm ultimately on the side of those who aren't concerned about it. I like how they see the world, and it matches how I see the world.What cultivates that kind of confidence?Well, as David Baker points out in The Business of Expertise, some of us are just born with it. Earlier in my life I envied those people until I realized that most of them were faking it, and most of those who were truly confident did nothing meaningful with that gift.The rest of us have to cultivate confidence somehow. This email's getting kind of long, so give me till tomorrow to tackle that one for you...Real quick, one more thing one of you said:_"My biggest concern relating to this is that my field seems to be relationship-based. And people are making decisions based on who they know and not on who will solve the problem correctly."_This is exactly what I was getting at yesterday when I said that your market is never truly a global market. One of the things that constrains it is exactly this: "people are making decisions based on who they know".As a generalist, I thought the solution to this was to go to more networking events to meet more people. I hated doing that, and I was not good at it either. It just didn't work for me.As a specialist, you become known based on the kind of work you have decided to focus on doing. Instead of promoting yourself, you're promoting something outside yourself. That might be a big idea you're trying to spread (example: remote work and the folks at Basecamp who promote that idea), a goal you're trying to help a specific group achieve (example: a client of mine who is using data visualization to help cities get closer to Vision Zero), or perhaps just the general awesomeness of a group of people (example: a marketing generalist who has decided to focus on SaaS businesses).It's much easier to become known when the thing you are promoting is not yourself.-P