We’re competitors ourselves and face competition in every sphere of our lives. But how do you view the competition?

Unfortunately, most people view competitors as the “enemy”. If you’re seen fraternizing with someone from a competitor company – having a beer during happy hours, for example – your boss might have a talk with you. You might even be seen as disloyal and viewed with suspicion.

We all know in order to up our game, we need accomplished mentors – people who’ve been there, done that. If you’re fortunate enough to attract someone willing to mentor you – great! Your learning curve might be steep but immensely shortened. That said, we don’t usually get to select our mentors – otherwise, every stock investor will be queuing up outside Warren Buffett’s door, every entrepreneur will be hounding Richard Branson, and so on.

However, why stop with a traditional mentor? Widen your net.

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Besides a mentor, one of the next best people to learn from is your competitor. But unlike your mentor, you can select which competitor to shadow.

These are some potential advantages of learning from your competitor:

  1. You gather options on how to tackle challenges and opportunities.

Most businesses have a given modus operando; a methodology they employ almost automatically. For example, when orders increase, when workload increases – management adds new headcount. How many people are willing to review their work processes; to streamline and wring out greater efficiencies? Perhaps your competitor is taking a different approach than merely adding head count.

  1. You add to your knowledge and expertise.

Instead of embracing the “I know best” mantra – which most owners of micro-businesses are guilty of – you could evaluate what the competitor is doing, cherry pick and build a more competitive strategy and action plan.

  1. Your competitor will drive you to excel.

Remember during your school days how you used to gamely compete with your schoolmates. Recall how you pushed them and they, in turn, propelled you to do better.

It’s common wisdom – spewed by many luminaries – that you need to compete with yourself and secure incremental improvement. However, do consider the context in which they give this advice. Their advice is valid, provided, you’re already the top dog.

But consider this example: If your competitor is pulling sales of $1 million and you’re doing only $500,000 – would you rather compete with him or with yourself?

In passing, consider this fictional conversation:

Are you a fast runner?

“No!”

Are you sure?

“Yes!”

You’re very sure you don’t have the potential to run lightning fast?

“Very sure.”

Okay, now imagine a fierce dog is chasing you. Are you a fast runner?

:-) :-) :-)

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