Questions have been raised about the nature of competition in business, and whether trying to stay competitive actually leads to a race to the bottom.
Clare Long, an HR consultant and qualified business coach, says too many business owners get distracted from their core business and customers by spending too much time trying to aggressively compete with other businesses.
“I would have you think about competition a bit differently to that,” she explains.
“I don't compete against others. A long time ago I learnt this, that if you set your own goals and go for those, often you might look behind you at the end and think ‘Oh, there they are’. [However] if you're spending your energy competing against somebody else, that's taking you away from you creating a value proposition that might be quite different and better – better for you and better for your clients.”
Clare suggests business owners should focus less on what their competitors are doing and more on adding the most possible value for their customers.
“This is a big market, there's enough room for everybody to play in. I would rather collaborate with [my peers]. If I don't have a piece of the puzzle to deliver to my client, I'm very comfortable collaborating with another consultant who does,” she says.
“That's very much a part of my model: collaboration is a key principal for me, more than competition.”
As well as adding value for clients, Clare says she believes that by not focusing too heavily on what your competition is doing, you will free up time to explore efficiencies and innovations within your own business. This allows you to compete on value, not on price.
“Knowing what other people are doing, it's important, but that's about your industry that you're working in. [It’s more] about staying current and continuing to learn stuff that's new. That's about being prepared to let go, say, of products I used to use five years ago. That's about looking at what else is out there on the market that might be better now. That's how I think you stay current,” says Clare.
“Don't wedge yourself to stuff that at the time worked really well; that's great, but what else is out there?”