If you've read parts one, two, and three in this six-part series, you'll already know that being yourself and doing things in a way that works for you is absolutely critical to your success as an entrepreneur.
Which brings me to part four. If you can wrap your head around 'being completely and utterly yourself', then you can wrap your head around this too.
There is no competition.
When you're starting out as an entrepreneur, that 'competitive spirit' everyone was so obsessed with in the corporate world needs to be left on the step when you leave your corporate job. Why? Because if you try to compete as an entrepreneur, you'll lose.
Let me explain.
By definition, competition requires that you compare yourself with others (see part 2 in this series). As an entrepreneur, when you enter any situation with that kind of mindset, you're guaranteed to spend far too much time thinking about what other people think, do, and say. That will cause you to focus on what you yourself don't think, do, and say. In order to 'compete', you'll be tempted to adapt or amend your message and your actions to be more in line with what your 'successful competitors' are doing. But in doing so, you'll dilute yourself and have the opposite effect to the one you intended. Rather than competing, you'll blend in. There's also a distinct danger that you'll position yourself and your offering (whether it be a service or a product) based on what your competition doesn't do, rather than on what you do do. When you spend too much time focused on what other brands, services, and products don't do, you'll spend insufficient energy helping your ideal customer to understand how your product or service can help them. Focus on your own house, and forget what's going on in everyone else's.
This is a departure from corporate life. In the corporate world there is always either external or internal competition, often both. External competition requires you win and the other party lose. When you increase market share, by default, another company's decreases. To do that, you have to convince your customers that your product or service is better, bigger, faster, shinier than the other guy's, or you have to convince them that his is worse than yours. To all intents and purposes, it's war. And it consumes time, energy, and money.
Then there's internal competition. In corporate life, we're constantly pitted against other countries, regions, teams, and even each other. We compete for budgets, resources, bonuses, salary increases, incentive trips to exotic destinations, recognition, brownie points, and promotion. Competition is largely what drives individuals inside organizations and that 'competitive spirit' is expected, encouraged, and rewarded. We call it 'competitive spirit' but it's a little more 'eat or be eaten' in practice.
For entrepreneurs, that simply doesn't work.
To drive your success as an entrepreneur, focus on the benefits of your product or service. Focus on what you do well and do it really, really well. Do it a lot and do it often. Focus on taking a step every single day. Keep your head down and stick to your plan. As an entrepreneur, you're competing with yourself and only yourself. You're making strides every day, each one an improvement on the day before. Improvement in yourself, your product, or your service is the place to focus your energy.
The whole point of being an entrepreneur is that you don't fit any mold; you don't have to. Your product or service is a reflection of you. And no-one else can do what you do the way you do it. You are a category of one. There is no competition. There is just you. Doing what you do, getting better at what you do, every single day. And that's how you succeed.
"You have to go out there and focus on yourself and not who you are up against." Trent Alexander-Arnold
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