I’m sitting in a lovely little café just outside Gloucester Cathedral called The Comfy Pew. I’ve never been to Gloucester before, and it’s very pretty. It also appears to be second only to Salisbury as the woo-bollocks capital of the world, which is amusing me.
Anyway, as I was eating my breakfast and savouring my pot of tea, I was scanning the Book of Faces and came across a post from someone in a group I’m a member of. She asked this – and I think it’s worth talking about, because a lot of people worry needlessly about this stuff:
“How do you feel about people in your field or “competitors” (for lack of a better word) on your mailing list?”
Now, there was no agenda – she was simply asking out of curiosity, I believe. But it got me thinking about it, because it’s the kind of thing that used to bother me hugely when I was just starting out.
“What do they think of me?”
“Are they laughing at me?”
“Are they going to pinch my customers?”
“Are they going to steal all my ideas?”
And do you know what the answer should be to all those questions?
“Who gives a shit?”
They’re irrelevant as your competitors. Pay attention to making your business the best it can be, and focus on doing what you need to do to grow it. The more attention you pay to others, the less you’ll get done.
They’re not laughing at you. They’re probably either simply curious, or as stuck as you feel sometimes. The funny thing about people is, we’re all way more similar than we are different. In fact, they’re probably looking to you for inspiration. Why else would they be on your list rather than you on theirs? Hmmm?
And as for stealing your ideas? Let them. They’re not you. All they can do is either create a poor imitation, in which case they’ll look like dicks and you don’t need to worry about it. Or, they’ll adapt your idea to their own personality and business, make it their own, and run with it. In which case, kudos to them. It’s what humans do. We see something, we’re inspired by it, and we see how we can use it ourselves.
It’s not stealing if you’re not copying directly.
And as for worrying they’ll steal your customers, well… if they can do that, they weren’t your real customers to begin with.
The truth is, there’s more than enough work out there for everyone. More than enough. And over the past few years, I’ve found the absolute best work comes from collaborating with people in my own field. Making friends and contacts. Passing work on when it’s someone who’s not a good fit for me, and paying it forward to up and coming copywriters – the way my own mentors have paid their success forward to me.
There are a lot of scarcity-minded people out there: always looking for the lowest price, looking to do as little as possible, greedily hoarding all their success and goodwill in a dark little corner of their own world.
Those people are not successful. Ever.
If you look at the most successful people in the world – however you measure that success – they’re generous with their time, their money, and their skills. They don’t hoard, they don’t jealously guard, and they are enthusiastic about learning and applying new stuff that helps them grow.
Don’t pay too much attention to what your “competitors” are doing. If you’re doing things right in your business and your life, you don’t have any competitors, not really. There are plenty of others in your field, for sure; but as for competing with you? Nope. Because if your voice and your brand and your marketing pulls the right people towards you, there’ll be no choice for them.
You’re simply the only option.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS If you want to find out how to make yourself the only viable option in the eyes of your ideal customers – and work out who those ideal customers are – you need a copy of my book, Business For Superheroes. Buy a print copy here, or get it on Kindle here.