Stop Watching Your Competitors
And do these 7 things instead!
I’m going to talk about the dangers of blindly watching and following others who are ahead of you in business.
Do you often find yourself stuck in the analysis paralysis of spending so much time watching what entrepreneurs (who are 20 steps ahead of you) are doing, and adding their coolest ideas into your personal inspiration folder, questioning your own business when the big names deviate from where you’re focusing, and do you sometimes feel like shit because you’re always a few steps behind them and not really carving out a path of your own?
Ok, so I’m here today to tell you to stop watching everyone else, like right now, and I’m going to talk about why riding in someone else’s wake could trip you up.
I was flicking through my book, Grow Your Tribe today and a couple of pages caught my attention about watching others, so I thought it’s a great opportunity to elaborate on it in this post. If you haven’t read the book, then go and grab a copy as I take you through how to arrive at the place in your business where you can sell without selling.
Now, I’ve spent years watching other people. It’s part of my job as a business strategist to understand every part of how a business may thrive and scale, but I see so many entrepreneurs literally paralyzed, or sometimes put out of business, because all their offerings and their next moves are planned around what their competitors, or their social media influencers are doing.
And, I’m not talking about copying offerings here, but when we’re watching the shifts in their focus and then following them in the same direction. Incidentally, I’m just going to throw in here that it’s totally good business practice to do your homework and keep your knowledge ‘on trend’ by understanding the latest thinking and approaches, but what I’m poking at here is the addiction to constantly watching what the big names are doing.
I’ve been guilty of this. I was guilty in the past of spending too much time watching entrepreneurs I admired when I first started out. I would spend hours reading their autobiographies (we didn’t have the internet back then, we just had stone tablets) and I would try to emulate them…and it was often the case that I’d fail and trip myself up every time!
Today, I know that I can only ‘do’ me, and I can’t be anyone else. And I’ll tell you why in a moment.
I still have my own entrepreneurial idols today and I listen to their podcasts, I do watch their changing directions carefully and I make my predictions on their future direction based on my strategic ability to look at their behaviour shifts and know exactly where the big names are heading next — what are they selling, how are they doing it, what are they saying. And I can easily see the new directions they are moving in.
An example is you might see the biggest course creator in your niche has now started talking about the massive success and results they’re having in Tik Tok, or wherever. They might be launching pop-up masterclasses or challenge workshops and you’re sat there thinking ‘shit, here I am with my online course, but pop-up workshops are more ‘in’ right now’
And you know what many entrepreneurs do? They panic and go off and create their own pop-up workshops, challenges, and the rest of it because that’s where their idols seem to be heading. They drop everything they’re working on, and they forget their own plans.
And when you’re on the journey to 7-figures it’s going to more important than ever that you stay focused on your goals, as every distraction risks sending you off your course.
It’s great to look up to the entrepreneurs who you aspire to become like, but, if you want to keep your business focused, keep scaling and moving forward then you need to resist the temptation to blindly follow what the influencers in your marketplace are doing, or saying.
Now here is where watching others rather than focusing on your own shit starts to trip you up.
When social media really took off about 10 years ago, and before I nipped this really bad habit of blindly watching others in the bud, every time I saw my idols start to do something new (so they might launch a new product, new website widgets, a new type of approach to their offering and so on) I would literally shudder, I’d drop my own priorities and I’d dial into their world. Like I’d literally drop everything.
Now I’m already an experienced and accomplished entrepreneur, but that wobbly moment when you have that feeling that you might have got this all wrong because, the people you’re looking up to are taking a different path to you can be pretty gut wrenching. I used to suffer from really bad imposter syndrome and I’d get anxiety just from watching others ,and going through this sickly fear of looking at myself, and comparing their new directions to my own. I’d worry I was on the wrong path.
I’d be sat working and receive on-screen notifications on my phone when they made a fomo-style announcement, or they’d gone live on social media to talk about the latest new thing and I’d literally drop everything to tune in, so I’d avoid missing out.
And what it cost me in the long run was time. I had lost time in stopping what I was doing, I’d become distracted and switched direction and then I’d invariably switch back again. And I spent too much time watching. And time is ultimately money, and ultimately, time is our freedom as well.
And these influencers were (well, they still are) my personal thought-leaders so, you’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘well, surely they’re gonna have the inside track on nailing this shiny new thing?’.
So, are the influencers always right? What do you reckon?
Well, I’m here to tell you your influencers don’t always have the right answers!
And here’s the thing, you don’t really know what’s going on in anyone else’s business or why they are doing what they are doing. You only have any certainty on what’s going on in your own business and no-one elses.
Usually, larger businesses, or influencers test the waters with new concepts on their website or they often try out new materials on social media for their audience’s reaction, but, (and this is the really important bit to remember) they CAN afford to do this because they’re earning gazillions, and you can’t afford to do this, not necessarily because of the financial element, but you can’t afford to risk your business by riding in the wake of others.
And competitors and influencers aren’t immune to making mahoosive mistakes when they’re trying out new ideas. In fact many of them will openly say that the majority of their stuff hasn’t worked, so they quietly quit it.
And I’ll bet if you look carefully at your favourite influencers or competitors, you’ll probably have seen them soft launch an offering, and then it quietly retires a few months later; no fuss, no announcements, and poof it’s gone!
And retiring what doesn’t work doesn’t affect them because they already have their own proven offerings that already work. So, they can afford to test and retire new ideas.
But, this is how it affects you. If you’re allowing yourself to be distracted and constantly realigning your business direction to theirs and they make an error in their testing phase, it can be extremely costly for you in terms of your time, your money and the longevity of your business. Think about it. You’re following someone whose just canned a new product and gone back to their bread-and-butter business. And then you’ve changed your whole direction based on where you thought they were heading.
If you’re a 7+ figure business owner, then you can totally ignore me here as innovation and testing will be a core part of your business model. But, if you aren’t earning gazillions, then you cannot afford to continuously keep up with those people who are testing the market with new things because — it’s unproductive, it will detract you from building your own fabulous brand identity and it’s very risky in case that new shiny ‘thing’ you’ve emulated goes horribly wrong.
So, you need to stay focused on your own shit. Be mindful, watch and learn from the experts by all means, but don’t allow yourself to be wholly distracted by your competitors or influencers.
Ok. Where should you be focusing your energies and your time? Well, I’ll award you 500 house points if you’ve just answered, ‘my clients!’
So, stop looking at your competitors because your attention should be focused on your customers.
If you’re feeling that your forward motion is blocked, or you’re feeling distracted by what your favourite influencers are doing, then here are my simple tips on what you can do:
- Double down on your core offer and stay focused on your clients. Avoid the temptation to get distracted by those ahead of you. Your audience and your clients matter more than influencers.
- By all means, continue to follow those who are ahead of you, and do save inspirational things to your inspiration folder — but then get back to your clients.
- If you do get distracted or fall into imposter syndrome, then go and do something more powerful. Book a focus session with your clients, or with ideal members of your audience and ask them for feedback. These are the people who really matter to the success of your business.
- Set the intention to not bring your emotions into the next step.
- Schedule time in your calendar to work ON your business. Do your competitive research during this scheduled time, and track marketplace trends.
- Look at what you do versus what your competitors are doing and find new opportunities in your uniqueness and look for what your competitors may have missed. So, that’s your unique value proposition. I have a great video on how to stand out in your marketplace, so I’ll leave you the link to that.
- Then, if you do feel the imposter syndrome creep in then EFT tap it out, set yourself some affirmations and then, emotionally walk away from this exercise.
Spend time to learn what your client wants and needs are and focus on providing the transformation they are hoping for. Be aware of your competitors, yes, but don’t waste your valuable time blindly surfing in their wake.
So, continue to be you, focus on your business, and focus on being the best you can be for your clients!