What if I told you that your business had no competition? That every client you want is yours; you don't have to fight for them, outbid someone else, cold call, or convince them that you're better than anyone else?
Sounds like a dream scenario, right?
I have no competitors. Seriously. In the growing world of social media and content marketing, not one person can compete with me. Why? Because I'm the only person with my experience, skill set, and passion who works with a specific niche of clients who not only benefit from all that I bring, they refer me to businesses just like them.
Of course, as I was developing my business, I didn't always feel that way. In the beginning, it wasn't at all unusual that I would the only person at a networking meeting who worked in social media marketing - or in marketing in general. But every once in a while, I'd come across someone who did something similar and when that happened, my stomach would clench with fear.
What if they're better at this than I am?
What if they know more?
What if they take the business that I need?
All realistic fears, right?
I've never been a very competitive person; in fact, the idea of fighting someone for something that I want scares the hell out of me. I'm much more likely to shrink into the background and let the other person get the prize. So, being aggressive and going after business - especially if someone else was playing the game - was something that terrified me to my very core. But a few months into creating Social Seed Marketing, I hit what I now realize was a turning point in how I view competition.
Not only did I come across someone who does something similar to what I do at a networking meeting, I was seated right across from her for the entire lunch. Not only that, but her very proud mother (an attorney) could not stop talking about how amazing she was. I was silent almost the entire time because when someone would ask me a question about social media, the mother would step in and say, "Oh, my daughter can answer that for you."
At the end of the luncheon, I fought my desire to flee, stood up and put my hand out to my "competitor."
"I'd like to talk to you sometime," I said. "Maybe there will be opportunities to work together in the future."
Her face lit up as she took my hand. "I would love that," she said.
I'll be honest. Our paths haven't crossed again. But if they do I will be armed with the knowledge that we aren't in competition; there's a good chance that she doesn't work with who I work with and even if she does, we both bring different skill sets to the table.
As I've grown more into myself and my business, I've welcomed my competitors. Here's why:
1. My niche
I have focused my niche and because of that I've grown faster than I ever thought possible. Because I'm so specific, what I now focus on to help grow my business is identifying key partners. I don't do PR. I'm not into corporate branding. If that's what you're looking for, I'm happy to help find someone and coordinate that as part of working with you...or I'll just hand you off altogether to someone that I've met and trust will serve you well. Finding people who work within my sphere and spreading business is a big reason why I'm successful. I'm a resource. And that's mainly what people are looking for.
2. I can't do it all
YOU CANNOT SERVE EVERYONE. Really. There are more people who need you than you
have time for. And I'll tell you, there's nothing more frustrating than telling someone that you can't take on more work...and then not being able to refer them to someone else. Network within your industry. Future referrals will come your way because of it. At some point someone else will be at capacity and you'll be looking to fill a gap. Wouldn't it be great to already have that network in place?
3. Knowledge is power
Like I said, we don't all serve the same people in the same way; I truly believe that that's statistically impossible. However, we all bring our own knowledge to our profession. Each time I speak with someone within the marketing sphere (and out of it), I usually learn something new. It might be a simple SEO trick or a new social media trend. Now, I'm going to take that knowledge and use it in my own way. And you know what? I'm happy to give you tips if I can. In fact, I'm honored if you want them. That just means that I'm an expert in what I do and I'm bringing value to you.
Run your own race
I recently listened to Oprah Winfrey's podcast with producer Brian Grazer where he talked about how his curious streak is more than just a personality trait, he considers it part of his spirituality. He makes it his mission to meet a new person every day and ask questions...and he usually walks away learning something he wasn't expecting.
When I think about that in the context of competition, that opens up a whole new world for me. If I'm curious, not competitive, and even seek people who do something similar to what I do, who knows how far I'll go and what I'll learn?
Maybe I'll even win my own race.