You’ve probably heard, more times than you care to remember, that it’s a big, fat jungle out there when it comes to running your small business.
Lions, and tigers and bears…oh my!
And all of those lions and tigers and bears are none other than your competitors. It seems like they’re lurking behind every tree ready to pounce and tear you to shreds.
The Race to Nowhere
I was at the starting line of a local 5K race the other day.
Here I am, a 42-year old mom of three with my 10-year old Target shorts trying to blend in with the crowd.
So, it’s a little hard for me to ignore all the serious, top-notch runners getting ready to win the race. They’re thin and taut, busily programming their Garmin watches and guzzling down their carb gel-packs.
Most of the races that I run begin the same way. The gun goes off and I get sucked up into the “competition.” I start way too fast and run outside of my comfort zone trying not to fall behind.
Well, obviously I always end up falling behind, because I’m not running at my own pace. There have even been times that I couldn’t finish the race because I’d run too fast and too hard right out of the gate.
Crush the Competition
That being said, I DO believe that you have to focus intently on your competition. The problem is that most people get mixed up as to who their competition really is.
In a 5K race, are the other runners really my competition? Obviously, they aren’t inspiring me to win. They aren’t pushing me to be my best (especially if I can’t even finish the race).
That race is designed for me to “beat the competition.”
I don’t know the story behind all the other runners in the race. Some have trained for years while others are decades younger than me. Those factors are all outside of my control.
The only person that I can continually try to “beat” is myself.
I can try to push myself harder than yesterday or shave a few more seconds off my time, because those factors are all within my control.
Sure, the other runners may keep me in check and may help me stay motivated. But, I need to focus on doing better than yesterday.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Believe me, it’s a lot easier said than done. Especially in the small business world.
I’m a prime example of obsessing over my competition. Heck, there were days that ALL I did was study my competitors. Who wouldn’t get depressed when reading about their million-dollar launch and spot on the Today Show?
But, I don’t know always know their story either. Some have been in business for years while others work 18-hour days to get ahead.
So, in my heart of hearts I know that I am the only competition in my small business.
The only thing that really matters is how much I accomplished today.
Am I better than, let’s say, a month ago?
Do I continue to learn? Do I strive to improve? Do I push myself even when I’m not in the mood?
Of course I realize that I need to keep an eye on my competition. (I preach it all the time!) But, only so that I can position accordingly. Because I can’t be them. I can only be me.
Through her popular Shoestring Marketing University classes, training, and support, Jessica has helped thousands of small business owners, all over the world, implement low-cost, high-impact marketing campaigns.
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