Why my competition is part of my tribe

You don’t have to know much about small businesses or nonprofit organizations to understand that a lack of competition is a formula for mediocrity. On the other hand, healthy competition – even when it can be scary – raises the bar for everyone.

I would even argue that when we 🎉 C E LE B R A T E 🎉 our competition, we lift one another up with that proverbial bar. This is why I will regularly recommend others I know in my field who do similar work as me. This can be as simple as “liking” a LinkedIn blog post of a colleague in my field.

There are so many times that I am tagged in local Facebook groups where a small business owner asks for marketing recommendations. So are other women I know in my field. And with no hesitation, I click “like” on all the posts when I see it. For me, it’s a small gesture of sisterhood. Sure, if it’s a gig that would suit me, I’ll reach out in private messages. But, whether the business owner gets back to me or another small business marketing agency in my area is ultimately not up to me anyway. So, why not root for another bright, hardworking entrepreneur I know?

I learned this lesson 15 years ago from my window installer. He had come to us after I called Diamond Windows in my area. But his business card had his own business name on it. When I questioned him, he told me that the owner of Diamond, Marty Zimmerman, had taught him everything about the industry. Marty had apparently told him that there’s enough business to go around, so why not support another person in the industry?

For me, it was a powerful lesson that stuck.

Following are 3 ways to stay focused on growing your business while still celebrating others:

  1. Know your strengths: Looking at our competition makes us see our own weaknesses in a brighter light. Try reframing this thought. When you notice strengths in your competition, think back to your own strengths that got you started in your organization in the first place. However aligned you are with similar businesses around you, there is some facet of what you offer that only you can accomplish. Focus on perfecting that area of your business. Essential to thriving among competition is the ability to identify what your organization does well and constantly work to develop that.
  2. Take ownership of what you can control: You are only the master of two aspects of your business: how hard you work and how much you know. Everything else is out of your hands. If you look around and see your competition pushing boundaries beyond you, ask yourself at the end of the day, did I work my hardest today and take steps to learn more? If the answer is no, improve tomorrow.
  3. Celebrate your competition: This third way is easier when you’re already focused on knowing your strengths and owning up to what you can control. Then, you can genuinely feel happy for those around you. Change the thought 💭 “I wish it were me” to “Next time it will be me, and I’m happy now for you.” This challenging step makes us kinder in the present and more hardworking for the future.

At the end of the day, all of us are better off for asking, what have I done today to celebrate those around me? Even when it’s our competition.

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