The Washington Capitals are champions.

It took over 40 years, but the team has finally won a title. The city and players have been celebrating since.

The story of the Washington Capitals in 2018, and the story of sports in general, serve as an important reminder of how critical competition is in driving the success of business.

Competition makes sense for sports. We wouldn’t watch sports tournaments if they weren’t competitive.

But for some reason, people can be apprehensive about competition when it comes to business.

Many small business owners often avoid competition altogether, scraping business ventures just because there are other people out there doing the same thing.

What they forget is that competition is not only healthy for their business, but the driving force behind it.

Here’s why.

  1. Competition drives innovation

If you are the only player in your field, you don’t face ongoing challenges. What reason do you have to make improvements to your product or tweak your business model?

Why waste time caring about customer service when you’re the only option in town? Customers will come back anyway.

No competition may lead to laziness, complacency and unproductiveness.

Competition keeps us healthy and leads to motivation, innovation and success.

  1. Competition means differentiation

It may seem counterintuitive to think that more competition makes it easier to stand out in the crowd, but it may be more meaningful to have a niche in your industry. Being different can help identify your audience and position your product or service.

A highly competitive market place offers an opportunity to differentiate yourself. Define who you are and create a marketing strategy to match.

  1. Competition helps you focus

In the age of the internet, it is easy to get lost in a sea of plans, wishes and ideas each year about how you would like to see your business grow.

Competition serves as a reality check. It forces you to scale back unrealistic plans and focus on that core demographic of customers your business was built on.

Expand too broadly and too quickly and you risk conceding the market share around your core demographic to competitors eager to step in on your turf.

  1. No competition means no customers (usually)

Nowadays everyone wants to be the new Uber or Airbnb and think of a groundbreaking business idea that will revolutionize an established industry.

Revolutionizing… and being a trend setter is tough but remaining the only one it town is even tougher. The odds are, if your business idea is good, then somebody else has probably thought of it already. And that means there will be competition in your space. That’s a good thing.

A lot of people wrongfully assume no competition is an advantage. They can dominate the market, they can be a big fish in a small pond, rake in more profit with less effort. After all, there’s nobody to compete against.

In reality, the opposite is true. No competition means there could be a serious flaw in your business plan.

Consider how boring the Stanley Cup would be if there was no competition and only one good team that dominated the rest. There probably wouldn’t be a lot of people watching.

The same holds true for business.

So as we reach the half way mark of 2018 and you find yourself worried about the competitors in your space, take a deep breath and remind yourself that competition is healthy for your business.

It’s a sign that you are in an industry that is growing and prospering.  Competition is there to force us as small business owners to improve ourselves every year, every quarter, every month and every day… and give it your best shot.

Let’s learn to embrace competition and be a game changer.

In the spirit of the sea of red that filled the DC mall yesterday, Go Caps!

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