Most experts tell you to keep an eye on your competitors so you can learn from their mistakes and keep up with them. I think that for many small and home based businesses it’s not necessarily the best thing to do.
Let me tell you why.
1. You lose focus.
The moment you take your eyes off your goal you slow yourself down. You know what it’s like when someone interrupts your train of thought? It can take ages to get back to where you were and your vision is nowhere near as clear as it was. Just keep looking at your goal and working towards it.
2. You begin to second guess yourself.
When you look at your competitor to see what they are doing, it does nothing but raise questions in your mind. “I wonder if I should be doing that, too.” “Have my customers have seen that?” “What would happen if I……..?” When you make the unplanned changes these questions lead to, you risk confusing your customers. You send a muddy, disjointed message out that attracts no one.
3. You try to be one step ahead of them.
The problem with watching someone else is that they seem to be the leader while you are the follower, and that’s pretty accurate. One day you decide that you want to be the leader and in a flash of brilliance you beat them to the next step. But who says they are on the same path as you?
4. You waste your time and creativity.
Why do you think there are so many copycats out there? When you are looking at someone else, you can’t be creating new ideas. All you can do is to recreate what the others are doing. Even worse, it will soak up your precious time as you watch and wait so you can work out what to do next.
5. You have colleagues, not competitors.
It’s all in the attitude. When you start seeing them as colleagues and not competitors, you take the pressure off yourself. There is no longer a race to be won.
It’s tough enough being in small business without having to compete against everyone else in a similar industry. Why put yourself through it?
Scan the horizon occasionally because you need to be aware of your surroundings and what is happening in your marketplace, but save your concentration for your business and your goals.
Take your business where you want it to go and in the way you want it to perform.