I was 8 years old when I tried to ride a bicycle for the first time. My brother gave me a little push and I was doing pretty well till I saw another kid zoom past me. I tried to give a chase and went straight ahead to hit a pole. I was so embarrassed that I never got onto a bike after that. Fast forward many years from then, I was fatigued & tired in a boring banking job with no purpose or passion in life. I wanted to quit and do something more meaningful. I was afraid that my peers and colleagues would move ahead in their careers and I would be left behind. The fear of leaving behind “so called” secure job or the fat paycheck was not letting me take the plunge.
I finally took the plunge in 2011 and entered the frenzied and exhilarating experience of being an entrepreneur. I was excited about being my own boss, with this whole notion of trying to change the world and do good. It was a struggle, with lots of ups and downs – well with more downs than ups initially.
One of the biggest challenge was the feeling of insecurity. We were insecure about every start up which would be featured in news or for anyone who got funding. It didn’t matter whether your venture was in need of funds or not! It was a rat race, which I thought; I had left behind while quitting my corporate job. My mentor Geraldine Laybourne, Founder & Chairperson Oxygen Media made me realize that I am trapped into this rat race because my mind couldn’t shake it off so easily. From childhood, we were conditioned to think of competition as a race to get best grades, get into the best college and then bag the best job.
That’s the time I realized, the fear of competition or the fear of being left behind make us feel so insecure and scared that we don’t even want to try. I realized my best competition is I and no one else.
The only way to deal with #competition is to ignore them (especially their claims). The more you think about them (and their claims), the more you are stealing away the precious time & energy from your venture. Its like riding the bike in traffic. If you start chasing other vehicles in traffic, you get lost on your path and sooner or later you would crash. I am not saying that competition does not matter at all. Competition helps to validate the marketplace for your venture, but focusing on competition’s activity doesn’t really help.
I learned a lot from my mentors (#thankyoumentor) and also observing some of the organizations which has defied competition time and again. One such organization was Apple, a brand that I admire immensely. They have been rewriting the whole story of technology space, which is by nature very competitive. Some of the lessons we can learn from Apple are:
- You don’t need to do different things; you need to do things differently.
Apple was not the first smart phone player, or the first mobile music player. They didn’t even build the first computer. They just made the existing products better by innovation.
- Keep Things simple:
When I first gifted an Apple phone to my mom, she was reluctant to use it but now she loves it. She chats, whats app, send videos, does facetime etc. It was easy for her to adapt to this new age technology because it was simple to use.
- Own a niche:
There were many critics who considered iOS platform would lead to major losses for Apple as it is a closed platform. But the reverse is true. The niche marketing and the aspiration level of owning an Apple product are so high, that customers love it.
My mentor advised me the following mantras while dealing with the competition:
– Don’t ever bad-mouth your competition or try and beat them on price, you will instantly diminish your perceived value. Instead, establish key differentiators and focus on your strengths to solve the problem for the customers. Think of how you can create an amazing user experience.
– Competition is a good thing. Google was not the first search engine. If no one is doing it yet, it means you have to establish a market from scratch and convince people why they need it.
– Think of collaboration instead of competition. We should always be on the lookout for partners to work with, to share ideas, to cross-market and, perhaps most importantly, to nurture a dialogue.
– You’re looking at a $74 trillion global economy – so plenty of business to go around for everyone. Until you reach $10 million in revenue your only real barrier to success is you.
So its time to stop worrying about competition but focus on innovation & creating best customer value. Because your best completion is only YOU.