It’s Not About Your Competition: 3 Considerations

In a recent blog posting about start-up companies, Dharmesh Sha wrote that “the goal is not to win over the competition; the goal is to put a dent in the universe.” The point is a good one: It’s not about your competition, it’s about you.

As a business strategy advisor, the common questions I pose are often the most difficult to address – what is your market position today and what do you aspire for in the future? Typically, the answers are, “we provide xservices” or “we sell services” or “we sell y products.” And we’ve been doing it for the last 25 years. But, now it’s not working very well “because of increased competition.” The competition is not the problem. It’s you.

Whenever a marketplace becomes saturated with competition most entrepreneurs and business leaders become increasingly vigilant about their competition and employ the classic approaches – cut expenses, cut prices, shave quality. But in the process, they often lose what made them stand out in the first place.

Shah’s statement is poignant and argues for consideration of the following:

  • What is the issue or problem you want to solve? “Solve” is about passion and dedication to putting the dent in the universe.
  • How do you want to be yourself? Customers yearn to buy from someone who has stayed true to the product or service they offer by saying “no” to what others may acquiesce.
  • Shape your own strategy. The more your strategy is a replication of someone else’s approach, the less likely you will persevere.

Competition is inevitable and can yield many benefits. Corruption and greed can run rampant in any system. But when you stay focused on sustaining a dream, true differentiation blossoms and it’s easier for customers to choose you.