In every industry there is competition, but within creative business it feels so much more personal. When we're faced with business competition it can feel like an attack. To make matters even more complicated the competition can often come from people within our work, market or creative community. It's tough and can cause worry, stress, self-doubt, unhappiness and even rage (yip, creatives get angry too). In one way or another, most creative business owners have experienced some form of competition, the key is to hold your own and to strive to always be your personal best. No need to go on a war path armed with scissors, knitting needles or your glue gun... read this instead:
Take a step back & stay calm:
Often, our natural instinct is to lash out, or phone our best friend and rant when our work is threatened. When you see it just stay calm, breathe and take a step back. Competition is viewed as a negative thing in most cases and the cliche about it being healthy doesn't help either. By not letting it run away with you - you can take it in, access it and decide how to direct your energy (ranting helps, but action is probably more useful).
Evaluate & reflect:
Understand what your competition is offering and which products and services encroach on your territory. Once you have a better understanding of this you can evaluate how to either up your game or even the playing field. Don't let self-doubt take over though, our natural instinct is to think that the competition must be better than us, when in fact its just different. I suggest you make a list of your strengths and the unique elements that make your business awesome. Things like creativity, great packaging, friendly service, excellent admin skills are things / skills that the competition might not possess.We all have something great to offer.
Get inspired & charged up:
Competition is the perfect thing to remind you to keep working at building your business. Use the threat as fuel to power you forward. I know this works really well for me - often, when I feel threatened I will feel charged up to try harder or follow through on plans I have been procrastinating on.
Now is the time to add a unique edge to your work. Don't get so swept up that you completely change your business or signature service / product. Rather, make time for innovating, adding inspiration and planning new offerings for your business. We all have unique thoughts and there is only one of you - no one can take that powerful tool away from you.
Keep your eye on the prize:
As you have travelled along your creative path, so you have had a vision of what it is that you want to achieve. Don't lose sight of that vision. Chances are it will be different from your competition. Don't let your competitor lead you down a path that isn't suited to your business. I always suggest that you keep your goals updated so that you know what it is that you are striving for. Through innovation and hard work you will steer towards new things naturally.
Don't indulge in negativity:
It's human nature to wallow in negativity. Don't stalk your competition day in and day out. Rather check in every now and again and spend your time constructively, by working on your own business and ideas.
I hope that these simple thoughts will keep you looking ahead and working on building the best business you possibly can! Even super successful creative businesses face competition, but through clever thinking (and a hint of professional grace) they stay on top.
The beautiful image is by Emma Block. Her work is whimsical and lovely.