I had an interesting conversation with a colleague this week. We were discussing pitching for work and how he looks at everyone else as competition. That led me to a train of thought to define competition in the world of business and whether competition is a good way of looking at things. Is it useful to use the word competition, or would strategy be a better term?
Is competition always good?
In the world of sport, competition is always good. It drives you to perform better and increases your willingness to go the extra distance. It’s what motivates you and drives you to push yourself further. I’ve always been very competitive when it comes to my creativity and art. I look at other things people have created and then I get a real competitive feeling to create something better. It pushes me and motivates me. In both of these examples, I would say using the word competition is a good thing, as there is no way that the train of thought around competing can become negative or destructive to yourself or to others. Now let’s look at competition in the business world.
Is everyone in business and in the same industry as you, your competition?
It’s easy to define them as your competition. You’re competing against their business to win the clients’ work. But how much of it is actually competition, and how much of it is actually just your strategy versus theirs?
If you see other businesses as competition, that might drive you to out pitch, offer more, highlight competitor weaknesses etc. But this can also lead on to other more negative traits that occur in the business world such as undercutting, lying, shaming, dishonesty and desperation.
Looking at the other businesses in your field as your equals, not as your competition, helps you to then differentiate yourself through your strategy. Your strategy is what will lead onto winning the work, gaining more confidence with the client and ultimately your client choosing you over the others.
Is this just semantics or a mindset?
You could argue that this is purely a semantics issue, but the aim of this conversation is to highlight that shifting your words can have an impact on the way you approach things and can dramatically change interactions and even dare I say it, make the world a better place (maybe a bit too far but you know what I mean).
Good luck on finding your own small shifts that can lead on to big change.