How to Compete Well

If you have been in business for even a day, you know that your products are probably not the best ones on the market. You may also know that there are lots of people who are serving in the same niche as you, and maybe even doing a better job than you. You know all of this because, thanks to new technologies, everything is out in the open in business today. You can clearly see what everyone else is doing, and they can see you. So much for trade secrets, right?

But this is a good thing, especially in what I call the “Indie Economy.” And while competition obviously exists, independent entrepreneurs need not be driven by it in a traditional sense.

I always cringe when I hear people talk about “crushing the competition.” It's good click bait, and it sounds good over a beer or two, but you don't really want to crush your competitors. You want them to thrive, as you thrive. The more they thrive, the more you are required to improve your game.

The more you step up your game, the more you succeed. It's a glorious circle of success, and there is enough to go around. Without competitors, you would lose one of the best ways to guage how you are being perceived in the market place.

The dictionary defines compete as “to strive to outdo others, especially for acknowledgement.”

Surely, you don't want to spend your precious time on earth doing that, right? So, flip the script. Don't compete. Instead, compete well. To do this, you have to forget about competing and focus on creating. Here are some tips to help you do that.

How to Compete Well

  1. Stop looking at other people's stuff

    You do not need to spend hours on social media weekly to see what other people are doing so you can compete effectively in your market. You are an Artisan Entrepreneur, you always have new ideas! Besides, you are the only person who knows what works and what does not work for your target customer. Instead of looking at what everyone else is doing, look at what you are doing — and what your customers want you to do.

    To help with this goal, unsubscribe from all social media, blog and newsletter feeds that cause you to feel like your work sucks and everyone else's is awesome. Not only will this boost your confidence, it will save you tons of time and free you to create more of the products your people love.

  2. Re-frame how you perceive what others are doing

    Since it is impossible to entirely escape seeing what others are doing, proactively re-frame what you see so it works for you rather than against you. When you log onto social media and see someone else doing something that makes you feel “less than,” try to identify one thing they are doing that you can use to make your business better.

    For example, next time you see a beautiful Instagram post with hundreds of likes, study it and the comments beneath it so you can learn everything you can about that post. What time was it made? What type of business is using the image? How are the props in the image staged? What filter was used? Is there text accompanying the graphic? If so, what does it say? Was a provocative question asked? Then, rinse and repeat.

    In other words, don't walk away defeated. Walk away empowered, and then put what you learned to good use in your own business.

  3. Develop your own personal leadership style

    Affirming yourself as the leader of your business is one of the best things you can do to build the confidence you need to look past what everyone else is doing, and focus on what you are creating. It takes a while to become comfortable with this reality, but over time, you will begin to see that, as a leader, you don't follow trends. You set them.

    Proactively invest time with people who also see themselves as leaders. The more you do this, the more you'll find yourself contributing to your market.

    Actively read, and learn from other leaders. Be intentional with your leadership style, whatever it is. Is your style formal and buttoned up? Or are you a more laid back and relaxed type of leader?

  4. Set and enforce boundaries

    Did you notice that? I didn't just say “set” boundaries. I said enforce them. It's easy to say you won't stay on Facebook for more than 15 minutes, but it's quite another thing to enforce your self-imposed restriction. After all, who will notice just this once? Well, you'll notice when, after an hour of gawking at everyone's perfect Facebook day, you suddenly wonder why you've lost your enthusiasm for your own.

    Setting boundaries that you routinely do not enforce puts you on the slippery slide down the slope of distraction and lack of productivity. Crossing boundaries happens, because life happens. But it should be the exception, not the rule.

  5. Create first, learn second

    “We have a strategic plan. It's called ‘doing things.'” – Helen Keller

    As a creative entrepreneur, you experience constant tension between having to learn and having to create. Of course you must always do both, but make it a habit to DO SOMETHING first.

    For example, if you have a choice between taking a course on how to style Instagram images, and using the skills you already have to do so, create first using what you already know. Doing this forces you to identify your unique weaknesses and questions and, in the end, you may be able to skip the course altogether simply by reading a few blog posts that cover the specific things you need to focus on.

    Learning is important, and I highly recommend that everyone be a lifelong learner. But learning can sometimes be the distraction that keeps you from doing and focusing on following the vision for you business. Guard against that by proactively checking in with yourself regularly to make sure that learning more does not replace doing more.

Donna Maria, Indie Business Network

Of course, you must compete in business. But you'll be far better off if you are competing against yourself, not competing against others.

Need More Support?

If you need help embracing this new approach to entrepreneurship, enroll in Indie Business University where I guide you through this and everything else you need to build a sustainable and profitable business.


What do you think of this approach to “competition?” If you are inspired by the information here, feel free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.