10 Lessons on Competition

Terms of Use

Privacy Policy



Winning Careers

Article Index

Offer to Speak


Search this Site

All material on
this page is
Copyright 2016 by
Peter G. Raeth  Contact

Find Career Mentor on LinkedIn

Every human being is born with an innate ability and desire to compete in any way, shape or form. This is the reason why competition exists in business, social groups and countries etc. I was born in a very competitive environment being one of 24 children my father had from 3 wives. We competed for his attention (time), for his finances and certainly for his approval. I always draw lessons from the way I was brought up which I know is not unique but certainly can benefit others around me. I believe we are all enrolled in the Life Education College which teaches us life lessons daily. The subject of competition stands out as an important one as I know whoever is reading this article faces this on a daily basis be it in the home, school, business, sports, arts and all the domains you can mention. Your attitude towards competition determines whether you entertain or become violent towards alternative at hand. Bear in mind that there are others who view you or your business as competition. What does that bring out of you? Tolerance towards others or you desire the much aspired for monopoly. As marketers, there is a need to change our mindsets when we view competition.

Important Lessons

1. Your competition is not your enemy - Competition is important in life and business. The moment our attitude moves towards enemies and camps, it affects the tone of our advertising. I have seen competitors putting up billboards next to each other's premises demeaning or undermining the value of the other solution provider? For what? Some want to call it aggressive marketing but this borders on the wrong emotions. Advertise what you have not what your competitor can not do. Change your focus and be real to your clientele who are after value not necessarily your raves and chants against your "rivals". As children we used to have "tale-tales" where we ran to our father as soon as a fellow "rival" did something against the father's principle. It brought pleasure to bring the other person down and the hope that one would have gained favor and immunity for future misdemeanor. Believe me, it is not worth it.

2. There is enough business for everyone - As mankind we generally harbor the feeling that "there is not enough around us". With such a mentality, anyone who shows interest in what we desire to possess and own is unnecessary. The truth is that in whatever area of interest, there is enough room to do business for everyone. There are untapped resources under the surface of the earth which we are endowed with. Our "shortage" mentality removes creativity to explore new avenues as we are always drawn to what is readily available not what is hoped for. Let competition come to help you meet the needs of people. If you came and put up the same kind of shop next to mine, I would not be moved into depression. I have actually had those experiences. My customers never tried because there was a level of contentment with what my business was providing. You can shake in your boots if you were taking customers for granted. My point remains, do not hate the competitor, there is more than enough clients to please. As a young boy I always felt that the more children were being added to this world by my father, indeed the more his resources were going to deplete hence I was gripped with fear. When it turned out that his savings were not spared by the record inflation in my country, it was like "I knew it, too many competing for one man's supply".

3. Competition is the ignition key to excellence & creativity - Sometimes monopolies bring about a level of complacency. In a sales department where you are the only sales person available, you sometimes set small goals and can walk away with excuses why it is "so hard and so impossible" to get into the market until two other sales executives are hired. Now the truth comes out as you jostle for recognition. The best in you comes out. As mentioned before, my dad had three wives and I remember he received three kinds of meals each time (my first encounter with a buffet). Our mothers had to ensure they made the best meals to please the "highest office" in the family. It brought some passive competition which of course benefited my dad immensely. Excellence came out even where is seemed unlikely. Note: I am in no way encouraging anyone to get more than one wife. I am using my own life as a case study for you to learn from.

4. Love your competition - it will confuse them if they don't know they should be loved. It takes you to break the myth that goes round. Everyone is born thinking that if we are both interested in one thing, we have to use enough energy doing PhD techniques ("Pull him Down" or "Purposeful human Destruction"). The virtue of love is usually never shared among people who are grappling for the same resource unless of course it is a popularity contest situation such as supporting the same soccer team, same political party etc. When love is expressed to the competition, it opens up avenues of synergy not speculative activity and spying missions. If the competitor considers you an enemy, no wonder you are encouraged to "Love your enemies". Take your competitor for lunch. You never know how a mentoring relationship can suddenly come up. It can be a peer to peer mentoring relationship where you teach me and I in turn volunteer a few coaching clinics unofficially for you.

5. Be different at what you do - stand out - Ask yourself what makes your business uniquely attractive, What is it that people will travel extra miles to come to you instead of the nearby alternative? When you identify your areas of uniqueness that draw people your way, you now know what to emphasize as you recruit more people to join you. If we both make loaves of bread, I would find creative ways of packaging, slicing, and keeping it fresh. Do those things that no ordinary service provider will do and guarantee yourself repeat business. You can enhance your security and comfort this way. I am the only child of the 24 who to this day has done over 20 different things uniquely. Some of the things have never been attempted in the history of my clan. Do not laugh at this but to me it is important as it illustrates my point of being different in the sea of competition: The first ever to have a wedding in the city, the first ever to venture into the risky idea of starting a business in a hyper inflationary environment, the first member of the clan to fly. I will reserve the rest for another article but I hope by now you understand the idea of being unique in your approach which leaves you secure and fearless.

6. Competition has sizes and levels - I often hear the classical example of how seed from a man is released in millions and the race towards the egg starts. Only one winner gets to create person you are today. No runner ups etc. "Winner takes it all". Competition can be between two individuals (for a position, for space etc.) or between two organizations or companies, or even between countries, e.g. competing to host the World Cup. At the time of writing this article we are actually 56 days closer to the World Cup in South Africa, only 1200 kilometers from where I live. (2 hour flight). You will come to terms with the fact that mankind is naturally competitive. The education systems have always glorified the "best student", the "number one" position etc. not realizing that all 40 passed even though the last one had a 5% pass mark. The education systems refuse to grade anything lower than 40%, they called it "U grade" or ungraded in some systems. It is vital to note that one of the people you should always try to compete against at all times is YOU. Your track record that you set, you standards you engrafted, your excellence from the last project etc. You should look at all those and say "I can beat whoever set that record" even though the person is actually you. It will catapult you to new levels and dimensions of doing business not the "usual way". People who have a strong INTERNAL competition "galas" make it well in life while those who rest on their resume of achievements will soon occupy the doldrums of history.

7. Competition can be either Cooperative or Destructive - Cooperative says "We will all win". You can have people who work cooperatively to improve their way of living. Common in my side of the world are money clubs where 5 women take turns to build capacity in each other. Each month one of the women walks away with $400 from all the women in the network. This does not leave anyone behind. They compete to see who will make the best of the $400 lump sum. Destructive competition seeks to gratify one person or one company by eliminating any opposing alternative. I am totally against the later type of competition. Why destroy a competitor who is helping you stay in check, leaving no stone unturned, through and excellent. My three mothers (my dad's wives) never did anything to destroy or back bite one another to the best of my knowledge. The managed to core exist right up to my father's death. If you are alarmed by the number "3 wives" speak of my grandpa whose children and grandchildren can certainly occupy a suburb on their own - he had 15 known wives and over a hundred of his own children. How did 15 wives exist in one competitive space, answer is that their competition was cooperative. They had a common goal, to keep my grandpa happy. Back to your business - your business units may be many but they need to realize they have a common undertaking - to keep you and your shareholders happy. They should cooperatively compete knowing when one unit does well, it benefits the whole group. There is a place for "Winner takes all" but I tend to desire that everyone gets a share of the pie in accordance to contribution and effort.

8. Competition brings value to the consumer - The main idea behind competition is that it brings efficient allocation of resources. When many suppliers compete for the business of consumers, prices gravitate toward costs of production and scarce resources are used for those goods and services for which there is real demand. Competition thereby produces maximum economic value from given resources, and uses minimum resources to supply a given demand. Consumers get better value where options exist. A monopoly sometimes rips off consumers because that is all the consumer has. It is a "take it or lose it" scenario whereas in a competitive environment it is your product that has to give value to the end user who has a choice to try next door. Competition brings the best value in terms of pricing, quality of service and general presentation. It is always for a consumer to compare and contrast when they go shopping. One should be able to get a low/high priced, low value item out of choice not being "forced" or having the item "imposed" for lack of alternatives. Sometimes all the consumer wants is something that is within the confines of the cash on hand in which case they choose quantity at the expense of quality. The coming of used clothes and used cars to Africa brought shock waves to boutiques and car assembly companies respectively. Now the client has choices on which lifestyle to go with. I love it when I have a buffet of products to select from.

9. Maximize the tool of Competitive Intelligence - Competitive Intelligence is a process of gathering actionable and crucial information in a competitive environment. In this you will be carrying out a research on the business climate and business trends and techniques that another business is following. This tool is primarily used to influence a strategy for business development. Bear in mind that while you should be aware of the direction a competitor is moving. I do not advocate copying a competitor. The tools I share with you above are to assist businesses in monitoring their competition. I am not suggesting that you replicate, duplicate, or copy anything that a competitor does. Use the competitive intelligence to make sound business decisions about the direction you want to take. If other businesses are moving with technology, you may need to likewise move with trends but not copy to the last dot every little bit of detail. If the business next door is ISO certified, find out how you too can attain the same licensing if you feel it will help keep your customers fulfilled and happy. As a torch bearer in my family, I have often encountered the question "How did you do it? How did you manage? What strategy did you put in place to accomplish this?" These are very sound questions that came from my very competitive brothers whom I have no doubt will surpass all I have done. Unknown to them they are engaging in some level of research to know what worked for me not necessarily for duplication but to help them create their own solid strategies.

10. Your competition may not understand you, but do you need to be understood? - One thing in life is that you will never be able to please everyone let alone be understood by everyone you meet. In a competitive environment there is a level of speculation, assumption and thumb sucking what the competitor really is about. When point 9.above is not done properly, people will assume things where they lack understanding or knowledge. You should never live to justify your actions or strategies to anyone. You take ownership and responsibility for what you are giving your customer. You do not owe your competition an apology for doing well. If you change focus towards pleasing your competition, seeking to be understood by them, you will lose ground that needs to be covered. Where direct tensions arise, certainly it calls for you to bring a resolve. It is not necessary to operate where there is "pollution" when it is in your power to eliminate it. Bottom-line is that you and your competitor are not fighting each other but are fighting other external macro-economic forces together. In so doing you help to bring a long lasting sustainable business environment for all parties in the same industry. Companies do this by formulating Unions for their line of business which lobby and engage authorities collectively. In such scenarios you should not isolate yourselves as a business but work with others for the common good of the industry.

You can thrive in the face of competition. You have to remain resolute on the fact that there is no shortage of business out there. Give your customer value and quality and watch how far your business will go.

Rabison Shumba is a writer, businessman and philanthropist. Writer of the book The Greatness Manual which you can preview on http://greatnessmanual.wordpress.com. Founder and CEO of Infotech Solutions and Greatness Factory Trust. Rabison speaks about success, leadership, motivation and inspiration. His trust works with disadvantaged school children supporting them with school fees and general livelihood. He also helps to network artists (musicians of all genres) to facilitate information sharing and building of future celebrities. Rabison is well traveled having been to Asia, America, United Kingdom and all over Africa. He is married to Jacqueline Edwards and they have two children. They reside in Harare, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rabison_Shumba


Browse The Bookstore