When was the last time you did something and thought, “job well done,” only to have someone criticize it (with good reason)? Whether it was a proposal for a piece of new business or for a loan or other application and it just wasn't good enough . . . damn! What did I miss, what should I have done differently? I think entrepreneurs are naturally competitive, some compulsively so. Being competitive is essential, but being compulsively so needs managing.
In any event, competition is good because it helps drive what we ideally should be doing naturally, which is to always strive for higher standards and results. Why? Because the competition always is!
As much as competition is a motivator, the real entrepreneur keeps looking for where the competition isn't. It’s easy to think every market segment is served and competitive but as long as you think that way, you are missing an opportunity. This is where multi-dimensional thinking comes in. Of course, there are entrepreneurs who reinvent markets or products or processes using technology, but often the smallest change can create significant differences in the perception of a product or service and result in a great success instead of failure or mediocre results.
Just look at the travel industry. Did the web re-define the industry and result in some amazing success stories? Absolutely. Have other more traditional service and specialization strategies also resulted in some very successful and profitable businesses? Absolutely. I understand how there are those that will think it’s crazy to measure or compare the phenomenal success of online travel agencies with the more modest success stories of offline travel agencies or tour operators. But ask yourself one question about how you define success as an entrepreneur: are you only successful if you create the next Apple, Expedia, or Amazon? Or are you also successful if you have created and own a less grandiose but profitable business with 25 or 100 employees serving delighted clients in a niche market where you have established an outstanding reputation for service? You might have guessed my bias and answer to that question.
Always aspire for higher and be proud of your successes!