Why Competition is a Good Thing (even when it gives you a panic attack)
“That’s, like, pretty much what I’m doing.”
“She’s selling the same thing I am.”
“I just found out X person is also making X product, so what’s the point in me even trying?”
As someone who works with and mentors new entrepreneurs on a regular basis, I’m no stranger to panicked emails popping up in my inbox about the discovery of a competitor.
“And she’s so much farther along!”
“And they already have 3,000 followers on Instagram!”
“They’re using organic cotton and making it in the USA, too!”
As soon as we discover potential competition, our cortisol levels shoot through the roof and we imagine the worst case scenario.
EVERYONE is going to buy from HER instead of ME.
So I might as well quit.
And while yes, quitting is the easiest route to take (in any situation) there are many more reasons to keep going:
- An idea is just an idea. Everyone has them. What sets you apart is your ability to execute. 99% of ideas never see the light of day, so if you’re able to get your product to market, then you’re already that much farther ahead than everyone else. So much of entrepreneurship is simply a matter of keeping your head down and doing the work. It’s not glamorous, but there’s really no alternative.
- The “me versus them” mentality is the fastest way to sabotage yourself. As soon as you start thinking the world is against you and the universe is set up for you to fail, then it’s over. I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who didn’t operate with an “abundance mentality.” Repeat after me: there are enough customers for me and there are enough customers for them.
- Competition breeds creativity. Having competitors in the market forces you to innovate, think outside the box and pushes you to do better than you would have done if you had a monopoly. While it may give you anxiety at first, you have the ability to reframe how it makes you feel. It can either deflate you or empower you — and you have the power to choose.
- Competition shows you there is a need in the marketplace. Having other players in the game means there is a big enough pool of people who want what you’re selling. The market share is there and it’s your job to find a way to take a piece of the pie.
- The great news about being in the clothing business is that, unless you’re selling to nudists, everyone needs it. Fashion is a $1.5 trillion dollar industry. That’s a lot of people buying clothing. And the average American buys 62 pieces of clothing a year. As fast fashion continues to gross more people out, you’re there to provide an alternative ethical option. How cool is that?
- And this. This is the best reason of all: Despite how many people are selling (or plan to sell) something similar to you, no one is ever going to do it the same way you are. That’s just fact. There is no one else on this planet that is even remotely close to the same person as you and thus, the way you create is going to be different from everyone else.
No matter how many new kids lines or womenswear lines or outwear lines debut, they’re all going to be unique to their creator. And that’s why it’s so important to know who your target customer is. It relieves you from having to sell to “everyone” so you can focus on selling to the special group of people it’s made for. There is so much freedom in that.
I know I’ve written about competition before, but it’s the topic that continues to come up because it’s so much scarier when you’re just starting out.
Working with mostly women entrepreneurs has taught me how sensitive most of us are. We want perfection, we want everything to go the right way the first time, and we want to show everyone around us that we can do it.
As soon as we hit a bump in the road, we tend to question our intentions.
Who was I to think I could pull this off?
When really, who are you not to?