A famous photo of Chad le Clos and Michael Phelps from the 2016 Rio Olympics circulated the internet.
The photo shows Michael Phelps focusing forward while Chad le Clos focuses on Phelps. Phelps took the gold for that race and the photo has become a mantra for what it means to keep your eye on the prize and ignore the competition.
This is no different in business.
Most of us as entrepreneurs are not inventing something absolutely new and amazing. We may be improving on an idea, but rarely are we creating something from a chaos of nothing. Because of this, it’s easy to become hyper-focused on our competition.
Maybe we’re checking their social media, maybe we’re concentrating on what they’re making, maybe we’re studying their marketing, whatever it may be, it’s not a healthy way to conduct business.
What happens when we pay attention to others:
- We lose the focus of our own business.
- We waste time watching what others are doing instead of growing our own.
- We question our values and belief systems.
- We become irate, agitated, and overly concerned with their next step.
The same works in reverse – as long as you are successful, there will be people who try to mimic your business. This can become extraordinarily frustrating because you know how hard you work to grow your own network. The reality is that the competition does not matter.
Spend time on coming up with your own creative ideas and techniques, nurturing your customers, rising above and you will watch your business soar. If you have five people copying you today, make your business worthy enough so ten want to copy you tomorrow. The businesses that rise and thrive are the ones who disregard any other competition.
Another issue in competition is when we have friends who are close in our business network who suddenly want to shut you out. Maybe they are not selling the same products as you, but perhaps they are envious – maybe even jealous – of your success? This type of toxic business relationship is one I advise you to move away from quickly and quietly.
I sat in on a talk by Aileen Gemma-Smith, the owner and founder of Vizalytics Technology, and business mentor for WENYC, and she said that we need to surround ourselves with our “cheerleaders.” The people who are like-minded and willing to support you – sometimes these are business peers, sometimes these are our friends and family, sometimes they are our customers – whoever they end up being for you, those are the people you want in your corner. Simultaneously, you need to be your own cheerleader. If you are busy worrying about the competition, you are creating a negative mindset; you are creating a mindset where you are only as good as another person as opposed to the goals you have set for yourself.
As you succeed, you may find people blocking you from social media, banning you from their groups, suddenly ignoring you; this is sad and unfortunate, but it’s all part of rising up. Keep persevering – ignore the haters – give them a swift ByeFelicia – and be sure to never be one of the haters yourself.
The more you help others rise and celebrate their success, the greater your own success will be, and more so, the easier it will be to sleep at night.