It’s our nature to judge our progress based on what others have accomplished before us. It’s how we advance, develop new ideas, meet new challenges, and stretch ourselves to grow.

When it comes to business, it’s tempting to spend hours analyzing competitors by browsing websites, asking others for opinions on specific companies, and devoting lots of time trying to figure out what makes them successful. This is especially true when you’re first starting out. Unfortunately, this thirst for information can absorb time better spent building your business. 

Too often, new enterprises try to be all things to all people. They offer a wide range of services and options to avoid missing any segment of their perceived market. Often their model is a conglomeration of the ideas of others, decorated by marketing tactics and lots of talk. Throw in some words about sustainability, and voila – the all-things-to-all-people business appears. 

Unfortunately, this approach rarely works in the long run as it usually lacks a solid foundation, clear goals, and a purpose that is easy for clients to understand. Potential customers and supporters are confused, ideals may not be reached, promises can’t be delivered, and another new business fails to make it past the five-year mark. 

One trait of the inexperienced entrepreneur is spending too much time worrying about competitors and burrowing deep into intensive research. While it’s essential to understand your market and develop a basic understanding of your competition, spending hours pouring over someone else’s website content will only help you so far. Once you’ve developed a sense of what they offer, do a SWOT analysis of your business to identify areas to strengthen and those that set you apart. Constantly reviewing everything your perceived competitor writes, posts, and offers sucks up your time and can provide a false sense that you’re actively working on your business. When it becomes an obsession to examine and then re-examine everything you’ve learned about the other guy, you’re robbing yourself of time and energy better devoted to developing your own enterprise. 

Building a business is hard work. Sometimes, despite whatever public persona you present, there can be uncertainty, a lack of confidence, and a fear of failure behind it. And there is nothing wrong with feeling concerned or anxious. No one wants to fail.

The successful business you see as your biggest competition once felt that same fear. They, too, were likely overwhelmed at the beginning. And if you asked them outright, they’d probably share the secrets of their success with you. 

  • Stop worrying about similar businesses – spend your energy finding your niche market by identifying your ideal client, asking them what they need (which isn’t always the same as what YOU think they should want), and then fill that particular gap. 
  • Make sure your dream can become a reality. Write a business plan – you need income to pay your bills.
  • Don’t think you need to be the only game in town – there is room for all. No one likes a monopoly; otherwise, we’d have one restaurant, hotel, store, etc.
  • Stop believing you can leapfrog and bypass experience – study the big so-called overnight successes: most started small and took years working on their businesses before they caught our interest.