Creative Business Tips: Dealing with Competition


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.

Innovate:
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.

7 comments:

  1. Angela4/30/2014

    Thanks for a great article, Nadia. It upsets me so much when I think up a new product ... and put loads of time and energy into developing an idea and then someone copies me. That does make me ANGRY... definitely want to get the glue gun out:) Also I find it very awkward when I am selling goodies I have made and people ask me how I made it and where I got my raw materials from... I am just overly suspicious? Maybe not everyone wants to copy me but it takes me months of hard work to work out the hows and wheres of making things ... should I just give it all away to a random passer by?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rose McClement4/30/2014

    Hey Angela - actually it is a breath of fresh air to meet someone who is prepared to be as open and as honest as you have been. I think that getting your nickers in a knot when folk have the cheek to want to extract your IP from you is completely understandable. My feeling is that it is particularly rude for people to do that - but then - it takes all kinds to make our diverse world. I have encounter it so many time in my trade ( which is interiors). Not that I have any DIY knowledge to share, but people have wanted to know the names of my suppliers and manufacturers with the express purpose of going directly to them. All that I do in recent years is tell them very nicely that as much as I would love to share my Intellectual Property, I cannot because my business is built on it - and I have taken years to develop it. And that then puts paid to any further queries. And if these people drop by the wayside, then that is okay as well. the real deal people will stick around and buy from you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rose McClement4/30/2014

    Nadia - I loved reading this post. It is such good and solid advise. I recall what the creators and innovative designers/owners of The Design Team once said: ' only way to deal with competitors and copy cats is to stay ahead of the curve - always stay one step ahead of them and allow them to play catch up". They were the force behind custom, illustrated designs printed onto fabric - way ahead of their time. Followed by the crowd and many a copy cat. I am not surprised with that attitude they remain innovators of note.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Angela. Thanks so much for your great comment. I totally understand how you feel. I think the main thing is be aware of other intentions and not share anything you feel uncomfortable with. Creating products and designs is such hard work and it gets me down too when creatives tend to take others intellectual property. Rose's comment shares a great way of dealing with it. I agree - stand your ground. Best of luck with your creative journey and thanks so much for sharing your insight. x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks so much for the great comment Rose. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and tips for dealing with this. I find that when people value your time and knowledge they are often more than happy to pay for your time too. While others just want it all for free - they usually don't have the grit to take things further. Have a wonderful and creative week! x

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ribbon Creative Studio5/06/2014

    Hi Nadia, thanks so much for this article. It's something I have always struggled with and never been able to channel in the right way. Printing this and sticking it on my pin board to remind me!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nikki Pietersen5/13/2014

    Thanks for a great article, Nadia. I also tend to get extremely offended when customers (and even friends/family) ask my what my cost prices are for items. Or where exactly do I source my stock from. I often put it down to people just not thinking that it might be offensive, I try to not take it so personally.

    ReplyDelete

« »

Nadia van der Mescht All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger