In the sixth of seven articles on the Seven Deadly Sins of Business Neil Debenham looks at Envy and what it does to your business.
Most businesses I know have an infatuation with their competitors. Are they doing better? Why are they so successful? What are they doing that I am not?
Competitor analysis is, of course, a fundamental part of running a business as it gives you vital insight into the market. Every business should have a good grasp about their competitors positioning, pricing and product range as it helps define your own business metrics.
But when analysis turns into obsession, it can be harmful to the business – and your health. I knew one business owner who would sit in his car outside a competitor’s shop counting the number of customers going in and out and have even heard tales of jealous entrepreneurs sifting through a rival’s dustbin to discover more about the business!
It can be misleading too. The man counting the customers through the door, may not have known that the shop was having a recently advertised promotion. The lady who sifted through the bins may not know that the high balance on the discarded statement was the result of a director’s loan to support the business. The fact is you will never know the true story. so be careful what you deduce. Social media is a classic trap for the envious entrepreneur. No-one posts bad news.
The Harvard Business Review noted: “Envy damages relationships, disrupts teams, and undermines organisational performance. Most of all, it harms the one who feels it. When you’re obsessed with someone else’s success, your self-respect suffers, and you may neglect or even sabotage your own performance and possibly your career.”
The key to dealing with envy is to think like an athlete. They rarely look behind to look at their rivals. They compete against themselves. I am reminded of the quote: “Winners focus on winning. Losers focus on winners”. Your focus should be 100% on your own business and not be distracted by the activities of others. The trouble with scrutinising the competition is that you end up trying to emulate them when you should be looking for differentiation rather than similarity.
Here are my top five tips for avoiding envy.
- Yes, of course keep an eye on your competitors, but be careful how you interpret your findings.
- Work out how you can be better, not similar.
- Don’t believe everything you read on social media. It’s all a deliberate marketing ploy to create perceptions of success.
- Explore ways you can collaborate with your rivals rather than compete. Look at how Apple cooperated with Microsoft to create iTunes for Windows and how you can now get Microsoft Office on Apple products.
- Create you own sunshine. Feel good about what you have achieved and share the joy with your team. The better you feel about your own business, the less likely you are to become obsessed with your rivals.