sideways3 300x214 Startup Marketing Lessons Learned: Stop Looking SidewaysThis post is inspired by Carmen Magar, US CEO of Chocri, after an amazing conversation with her on how to manage your competition.

Don’t build a business based on what your competition is doing because you will never be able to get ahead of the race. There’s no innovation, similar to why copycat marketing isn’t ideal. Look ahead and work to be a leader in your industry. When you look sideways, you will only get as far as your competition is pushing, but when you innovate and look ahead, you can far overtake the competition and stop looking sideways. You’ll probably only peek backwards every now and then and gloat.

As a young company, it’s hard not to look at the competition with hesitance or even fear, but it’s not going to get you far if you base your business and your marketing on what your competition is doing and try to mimic that or try to somehow be a bit better. Just BE a much better business!

Competition certainly gets scary especially if they have more resources, better degrees and a more experienced team. But what can a couple of MBAs with $300k really do that a team of sub-22 year olds, half of which don’t even have their undergraduate degrees, can’t do? The answer is nothing. Sure, resources help, degrees don’t mean everything (there’s a huge debate on this), and experience can be gained incredibly quickly. For your business to grow, you need to be amazing and develop some strong competitive advantages and not get bogged down by your competition.

Ways you can develop a competitive advantage and genuinely be a better company include:

  1. Having a better product and better customer experience. Loyal customers can never be taken away, and loyal customers will spread the word-of-mouth, so much so that you might be able to steal market share from competitors if you’ve really evangelized your customers. This is really big because you will have lost leads if you can’t retain your customers, especially if you can’t provide them with an exceptional experience such that they are telling their friends, family and coworkers.
  2. Providing exceptional value for your customers and clients. When you have an amazing product and amazing customer experience, you are giving the recipient a ton of value for their dollar, and your remarkable service will take your business a long way.

You can’t fuss too much about what your competition is doing and you should mostly just worry about how you can build a remarkable business. If you spend too much time looking sideways, you won’t be focusing on the things that really matter for your business, especially if your competition isn’t doing the best things for their businesses.