I have always been extremely passionate about the topic of competition between business mums as I have seen first hand how the extremes can affect women on both sides of the fence.
Taken to its extreme I know of mums:
• threatened with legal action
• involved in fights on FB
• bitching or being bitched about – to clients no less!
So, why does it happen? Why can’t we all just get along? Purely and simply, it’s fear.
Fear of losing our market share, fear of yet more competition – wouldn’t we all just love our competition to go away?!
I remember in the UK when another mum in business group started up and on their home page alone they had the exact same stock photo as me and had used terminology for their suppliers that I had used on my site – terminology that wasn’t regularly used.
So what did I do? First of all, I got extremely alarmed. Then, I had a quick think about how I could blow them out of the water and hurt their business. Then I thought about sending an email asking them why there were such alarming similarities to my site.
However, this is exactly when I recognized that I needed to take a step back and get some perspective, rather than rushing in and doing something silly. In the end? I did nothing. Read on for the reasons why:
DON’T GET PRECIOUS!
Last I checked there is no patent on ideas i.e. being an organic clothing company or being the first in a field – if you go into an area and make a go of it, people will follow. They’re not going to sit back and go, oh, she thought of it first so I’ll think of something else.
No one cares that you were the first – and continually moaning to anyone that will listen that you were the first will just make people tire of you. Business involves thinking of an idea and then continually marketing yourself and developing so move on and don’t dwell on the past!
Focus on you and what you’re doing, what you can control. You can’t control other people entering the field, even other people taking info from your site (if they are) - all you can do is what you do best.
In addition, constant focus on a competitor can skew your perspective. All of a sudden you think most of your content is on their site (when in actual fact, if you’re in the same field you’ll have the same stuff anyway). Or you see a FB status update you’re sure is about you. It can then lead you to doing or saying things you wouldn’t normally in retaliation, when, in actual fact your competitor is just going about their daily business.
And don’t forget, customers aren’t seeing what you’re seeing i.e. they could go to a site that is copied from yours and not see it at all.
MORE THAN ENOUGH MARKET
The world is a big place, the internet has ensured that. Websites that fight between themselves are delusional as the fact is that most people surf and use many sites – you can’t be all things to all people.
The best thing you can do is constantly be in your market’s faces – through social media etc – understand them, their habits, talk to them, give them what they want. Note that all of these options involve you doing things for your business and have nothing to do with your competition!
BELIEVE THAT BITCHINESS WILL BE RECOGNISED
If people are being bitchy or obviously stealing from you – understand that people will see this and not buy from this person (as most women, in particular, will go elsewhere if they feel someone is being horrendous to another).
If you react to this and start bitching back, you’ll lose your market share too. Mums are equal opportunity when they migrate away from those they feel are engaging in bitchiness. All they want to do is buy your product, not listen to your tirades – no matter how justified you feel they are.
CUT OFF THE NOSE TO SPITE THE FACE
In some situations, there are businesses that refuse to work with any competition at all. These are the ones that are cutting off their nose to spite their face.
What they don’t realise is that in the short term it might satisfy their fear, but in the long run, they may look around and find all their competitors on one side and them on the other.
Which side would you rather be on? The side that is referring to one another if they have too much work? The side that is sharing resources? The side that now, as a group, is bigger than that one business?
There may also come a time when you decide to reinvent your business and go in another direction. The people that were once your competitors could all be your allies – if you hadn’t screwed them over.
TRUST YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO
I work with Family Capers and Working Mums Masterclass, I mentor Inspiring Mums and more. Why? Because I trust that who I am and my brand and that I will attract those people who will buy from me – just as I know that the people I don’t connect with will go elsewhere.
I then become known as a mum who really does help my mums as I send them info on events and services my competitors run that I know will be of value to them. They then think of me better and yes, they may end up using my competitor more but then I may get someone back from my competitors who works better for me.
The only reason people won’t come back to you is if you’re not offering what they want or they don’t connect with you or your brand – again, nothing to do with your competitor at all.
The fear also stems from losing your business, doesn’t it. I know whenever someone new starts in my field I have a little ‘eek’ moment. More competition.
The fact of the matter is that you should be prepared for the fact you may not succeed in business – however, if you do it will be due to your failure, not due to someone else coming in to the field.
And this failure could be anything – not researching your market enough initially, not branding correctly, not developing the correct marketing message and so on. The good news is that these are all in your control. If you give your power away and believe that your inevitable failure will be due to your competition then you may as well give up now as you’ll never be able to control this.
So, what do you need to be prepared?
• Don’t get precious – this is business!,
• Keep your focus on you and what you’re doing – the more time you focus on them, the less time you spend on your biz,
• Believe there is enough for everyone,
• Use the fear factor as an indicator that you need to step back, take a breath and refocus,
• Work with others and reap the benefits of shared resources and recommendations,
• Trust yourself and believe that you can’t be replicated – no matter how much of your content can be, and
• Remember you are the master of your success or failure – own it!
Alli Price runs Motivating Mum, a website and events service offering support and advice to Mumpreneurs (or those wanting to be). She provides networking lunches, brainstorm sessions, phone mentoring, articles and features, an online forum and more. She also runs the Biz Mums Blogging Carnival. W: www.motivatingmum.com T: @motivatingmum F: MotivatingMumOz