Any strategic business manual teaches us as an important rule to permanently research and monitor our competitors in the marketplace. We have to keep an eye on all the movements our competitors are making and counter-attack their attempts in gaining more market share. Most entrepreneurs consider their competitors as being their fierce enemies.
Hence, for many business people watching their competitors is an obsession. Managers are so focused to react to what their competitors are doing as they almost forget about their own market strategies.
In the last decades, the concern for competitiveness has become a common behavior. Beginning with our school years, we are taught to fight for being the best in our class, to beat our peers in acquiring good grades. Later, we fight to acquire a better standard of living –to have a bigger house, a more powerful car, and a cooler outfit than our neighbors, friends, relatives or co-workers.
The spirit of competition is deeply engrained in our conscience.
Now I’d like to tell you a story – a real story – about one of my high school colleagues. We may call her Mary.
Mary was passionate about mathematics. She was happy anytime she found a quiet place to stay and solve difficult math problems. Mary has never been worried about what her colleagues were doing or what marks they were achieving and has never been concerned to compare herself to others. She also has never been interested in her own grades. Anyway, she was the best by far.
She permanently has been competing with herself. Any new math problem was a challenge for her, an opportunity to learn more, and to find the result even faster.
Whenever one of us asked her for help, she was happy to share her knowledge. She has always had the time to help others.
I don’t know what most of my high school colleagues are doing now, but I can tell you what Mary is doing.
She is a multi-millionaire business owner. Together with her husband, she founded an innovative software company and she is still following her passion for mathematics and informatics. She creates online learning courses for children and various education software programs.
As long as they are designing genuine products, it doesn’t probably matter too much if they still monitor their competitors. But I am sure Mary is concerned about her progress as she always has been.
This is in my opinion a good lesson for anyone involved in business, and not only.
Most entrepreneurs enter the market imitating other businesses and focus only on beating their old and new competitors. That’s probably why more than 98% of new businesses disappear from the market in the first 10 years.
The very few businesses that last over time are those choosing a different path. These business owners usually challenge the way their competitors are serving customers and bring on the market new creative solutions.
The innovators are mostly competing with their own limits and are permanently concerned to do the right things better today than they did them yesterday.