Y’all remember this super cute video that went viral a few years back? The one with the little girl in the backseat who keeps rebuffing her dad’s attempts to help with buckling her seatbelt? Instead of letting him assist, she keeps repeating: “WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF!” and it is seriously the most precious thing EVER. Watch below:
“Worry about yourself!” I LAUGH, BUT… it strikes a chord in this little entrepreneurial heart of mine. Worry about yourself…and mind your own business. I feel like I want to say this to all of my peers out there!
Rather than “worrying about ourselves,” isn’t it true that so often we business owners can get caught up in what other people are doing, and in the process look away from our own efforts and even the race itself?
Whether it’s being overly concerned about the success and failure of our industry peers, thinking too much about how we’re perceived, or even doubting we can carve a place for our businesses in what seems to be an overly saturated market, it is all too easy to become distracted from minding our own damn business. We end up spending so much time paying attention to the competition and not enough time identifying what we uniquely need to be successful in business!
OOPS. I said the C word: COMPETITION. I feel like that’s totally taboo in the wedding photography world…and it reeeeeally doesn’t need to be. Shall we dig in?
COMPETITION: IT DOES A BUSINESS GOOD
Friends. Take a deep breath with me. Let’s learn to be comfortable with the word competition. Fact is, competition exists in every field, and it’s a good and healthy thing. We need competition in our industry in order to grow, get better, and constantly adapt to changing needs and demands of a given market.
We should absolutely take the time to learn more about our competition – for example, when I first moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth market from South Carolina as a wedding photographer, I spent time researching the top photographers in the area and even got to know some of them. Not only was it a form of networking, but I also learned a little about why they were booking the way they were. The benefit in this is that I was able to translate my findings into ways I could set myself apart, and thus carve out a spot for my business in the Dallas wedding market.
It is smart to harbor a healthy awareness of our competition. The problem is when we begin focusing on competition so much that we don’t leave time to refine and promote our own businesses, or when we start to compare ourselves in ways that just don’t make sense. Let’s continue.
STICK WITH WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
You were the one who started your business. You were there at the very beginning. And depending on how long you’ve been at it, you know intimately the highs and lows as well as the successes and failures you’ve experienced along the way. What I’m trying to say is that you should know your business better than anyone else – and you can’t let what is working for someone else distract you from your own business journey.
One way to keep focused on your business is to measure the results of strategies you’re implementing. A real-world example of this is looking at how much you’re spending on an advertising campaign versus the revenue it’s bringing in for you. Are you profiting? Are you able to measure strong return-on-investment? If so, then the strategy works for you – and that should be the end of the story. CONTINUE DOING THIS UNTIL IT NO LONGER WORKS. I’ll often see business owners second guessing their own cold hard findings based on the experiences of others – and that’s just plain wrong!
The thing is, there are so many variables that make your business different than the one next door. They may have a different team dynamic. A different market. A different audience. All of these things mean that what works for them might not work for you – and vice versa.
Take the experiences of others with a grain of salt. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by your competition. Focus on what is working for YOU, hammer away, and become AWESOME at it.
STOP FOCUSING ON THE COMPETITION – FOCUS ON YOUR CUSTOMERS
Your most concerted effort should be a ruthless focus on your customers, NOT YOUR COMPETITION. Spending too much time paying attention to other businesses and what they are doing interferes with your ability to understand and relate to your customers. You should be more concerned with your customer’s needs and expectations and how you can rise to meet them. If you’re too busy obsessing over your competition, it’s nearly impossible to hear the voice of your customer!
One of my favorite quotes is from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who says: “If we can keep our competitors focused on us while we stay focused on the customer, ultimately we’ll turn out alright.” I absolutely love this strategy and FOCUS!
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
Imagine you’re running a race. The finish line is well within your sight, but suddenly you hear the the pounding of feet behind you…and then next to you. You hear it again, except this time on the other side. You begin anxiously looking left to right, now more concerned with how close the other runners are rather than maintaining your focus on being the best runner you can be. You begin second guessing your talent…the hours of training and dedication…and you lose sight of the finish line in front of you. Because you’re too busy focusing on your competition, you momentarily waiver, lose your balance, and ultimately trip in a painful, injury-inducing, pride-damaging fall.
If we’re to succeed, we’ve gotta keep our eyes on the prize. We do this by having defined our vision, our mission, and our beliefs. If at the end of a workday we can say that we have lived up to the vision we’ve established for our business, then we are striving toward the finish line. So remember your “why” and let that propel you forward rather than getting caught up in what others are doing.
TO SUM IT UP
If you want to set yourself apart as a successful business owner, you must stop obsessing over what others are doing. Maintain a healthy awareness and appreciation for your competition, but focus instead on what works for your business and how you can best serve your clients. Let your mission always be at the forefront of your efforts as a reminder of where you should be channeling your energy. By prioritizing the most meaningful work you have in front of you, you’ll find yourself so far ahead that you’ll forget you competition was ever a thing…and instead build a successful, long-lasting business that matters.