Growing up, I always had an innate draw towards competition. I learned to channel that energy playing multiple sports throughout the years. The things that I learned about myself was foundational to crafting my responses and outlook to both winning, losing and life. My love of competition has further developed now in business. There are many directions we could look into but for this post we are going to look at four criteria through which I’ve developed my belief that Competition Validates Your Product. The hope is that you could use this process in your own business or life to help keep a step ahead of competition.
- Know your Product
I call this self awareness. As you look at your work and what you are selling, how would you define your product? Do you have a clear vision for what you spend your time on each day? Can you clearly communicate what it is that you are selling or representing? What are the features and benefits that give you an advantage over other products? In business, it is said that success boils down to people, product and process. This develops a three-legged stool that without one the whole thing would fall. Have conviction and clarity around what it is you offer as a product.
- Know your Competition
This is called others awareness. Who and what are you competing with? Are you on the same playing field with them? Do they have a better footing in a marketplace and why? What products do they offer that you do not, or where are your products superior to them? How are they influencing the minds of consumers and what tools are they using to interact? We’ve all heard it said before, to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. While competition isn’t an enemy, the principal is key, knowing the alternatives your customers have is powerful.
- Evaluate Consistently
This is the secret sauce to the whole process. We are very good at looking in the past of what we could have done better but rarely do we maintain consistency in evaluation. The best example of this is New Years Resolutions. I do a great job each year of planning out my goals, but it is very difficult to stay focused and execute as the year progresses. Set a schedule, could be weekly, monthly or daily, to evaluate how you are doing against your competition. Create a rhythm and discipline around the process. How are you outperforming them or what modification can you make to standout? This will cause you to go back and reevaluate knowing your product and competition.
- The Customer Decides
The beauty of a free market economy is we, as consumers, have choices! Customers are the final say if your product and service was superior or inferior to the competition. We can do our best to find the best people, have the best process, but if customers don’t like your product then there is a problem. Self storage is unique because we have very few bells and whistles to differentiate our respective boxes of air. A 10x10 is 100 square feett regardless of where you are at in the country, however, there are numerous other factors that play into a customers purchasing decision. They will let you know if you are doing a good job in differentiating yourself from your competition by where they spend their money.
For me, competition is exciting. It causes me to elevate my thinking and ultimately makes me better. The concept of having no competition sounds fun at first but what it ultimately will lead to is complacency and a lack of innovation. Don’t be afraid of competition but lean into it and use it to help you or your product to become better.
“Today, you’ve got a decision to make. You’re gonna get better or you’re gonna get worse, but you’re not gonna stay the same. Which will it be?” – Joe Paterno