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Competitive Intelligence

What Is Your Top Competitor Teaching You?

By David Ackert on July, 12 2012

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David Ackert

In moments of overconfidence, we like to tell ourselves that we've cornered our niche, that we don't really have any competitors who do exactly what we do, and that we're well on our way to dominating our market.

The truth is that there are hundreds of other people in your city who do exactly what you do. A few of them do it better. Maybe not every aspect, but some have a deeper knowledge base than you, others have better training, and some are better at marketing themselves. That's bad news for you. Unless, of course, you view your competitors as your teachers. Their successes indicate new heights to which you can aspire, and their weaknesses are your opportunities.

Back in the mid-90s, a man named Alan Weiss authored a book called Million Dollar Consulting and came to be known as the "million dollar consultant." Until he came along, most consultants didn't think it was possible to generate $1M+ a year from advising alone. But Weiss introduced a new ceiling into the consciousness of his industry, and for that, I will be forever grateful to him.

By the same token, golfers study Woods and tennis pros study Federer—because watching someone who has mastered their game is both inspiring and instructive.

So, make a short list of your top competitors. The ones to whom you've lost business. The ones who make you a little nervous because they're just as good, if not a little better at some aspect of your profession. Study their websites and Tweets and LinkedIn profiles. Watch their videos on YouTube. Get to know them as well as possible. Glean what you can from both their advantages and shortcomings. The idea is not to copy them, but to emulate their strengths—and then put that knowledge into play and surpass them.

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