How not to freak out when competition sets up on your patch

A great question today at The Bubbling Well from Beth of Red Squirrel crafts:  How do you deal with the feelings of worry and panic which come up when new businesses start up in your area doing something similar to you?

The first reaction many of us will have to a new business arriving nearby is to experience a negative range of emotions.  Allow me to illustrate some of the options with my mad acting skillz…..

AnxietyUncertaintyOutright panic

During our years at The Art House we have had a few businesses and organisations similar to us set up, and in each case it’s turned into a mutually beneficial partnership.

Also, having them so close means I've got somewhere to buy noms.

Also, having them so close means I’ve got somewhere to buy tasty things. Just sayin’

Rice Up Wholefoods, for instance have become a valued supplier – and we’ve referred quite a few customers wanting outside catering to them.  So, even though they also do some of the things we do, we’ve benefited from having them close to our business and they benefit too.

If you see others in the same business as you as your community, rather than your competition, things start to happen.  Good things.

So, if you are freaking out about new businesses setting up on your ‘patch’…… what to do?

Well, first of all forgive yourself – we’ve all been raised in a very competitive culture and it’s hard to get past that!

With the recession (sort of, we’re told!) lifting, a lot of us are seeing ‘competition’ spring up and yes, it can be unsettling.  It’s easy to get into the mindset that there isn’t enough business to go around and that we’re about to lose all our valued clients.

It’s OK to be unsettled, let the feelings rise to the surface and work with them, listen to the blockmonsters and write down what they say.  Trying to ignore this blockmonster will only make it shout louder.  Get your journal out and explore your feelings.

Then, rewrite the story.  Try some of these starting points:

1) Competition setting up proves there is a market for what you do.  This is a good thing.

2) Competition can make you up your game!  Learn from them 🙂

3) Vive la difference – no other business is going to be exactly like yours.  Celebrate (and communicate) your uniqueness.  Having other businesses in your field can really help with this.

4) Competition can help you hone your niche, so that you don’t have to be all things to all people.  Knowing people are served in your area by other businesses means you can focus on offering the stuff you really love to do (which is the best stuff to offer!)

5) If you do the above, you and the competition can actually refer clients to each other (yay!).

6) Nobody else can be YOU.  In creative industries, competition makes no sense … remember, it’s YOU your ideal customer wants to buy from. Nobody can compete with you on being you – and if they try, they’re going to suck at it.

Yes, sometimes you will encounter a business which does try to market to your clients, and I’m not going to pretend there aren’t some sneaky mo’fos out there.  But, for the most part, your competition are just in it for the same reasons you are, and are not to be fearer.

Even powerful big chains opening up nearby need not always be a bad thing, even when they mean it to be as in the case of Starbucks with this small coffee shop owner.

In fact, we recently had a Starbucks open up the road from us and our business is still growing! Overall, we find that new places opening up near us actually create a buzz and bring more new people our way.

One thing that I’ve noticed is common to every single successful entrepreneur I’ve met – they turn everything into opportunity.

If you rewrite the competition story to something you can use to grow, improve and build on, wonderful things can happen.

What experiences have you had with ‘the competition’?  How have you dealt with it?  Please share in the comments section below!

 

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