How do you feel about the word “competition”? For us self-employed people, that word can create anxiety and resistance. Being “competitive” tends to make human beings less cooperative.
Instead, I recommend using the term “niche mates” — other worthy human beings who occupy the same industry niche as us.
They, too, have families to feed, and dreams they hope to achieve. And, similar to us, they also have hidden suffering in their life that, if we only knew, would inspire our deep compassion.
The world is starving for genuine, win-win collaborations.
Let’s find a better way to think about, and work with, our niche mates.
There are essentially 3 options:
If a little wiser, they might get “strategic” and try the second option: learning from their competition, but even so, it’s often out of hoping that the competition will eventually lose.
Let’s be more mindful in how we think about our niche mates, and focus instead on learning and collaborating.
We can all have enough
Every single business can have enough clients, if we become more mindful, active, and caring about creating win-win relationships.
A niche mate is another business, like you, that provides a service similar to what you provide, and which serves a similar audience.
A niche mate, like you, has both insecurities and genius zones (that might complement yours.) They need to support themselves, as you do, and might have a family to support. Your niche mates deserve good opportunities. And, like you, your niche mates also need and deserve help.
In fact, your niche mates are either your best mirrors, or your best partners.
Niche Mates as Mirrors
It’s difficult to see how good (or bad) you look, and adjust your appearance, unless you look into a mirror.
Similarly, it’s hard to figure out the best ways to improve your own branding, messaging, and marketing, unless you look at your niche mates. They are essentially mirrors for your business!
When you look at your niche mates, you’re naturally able to critique and praise.
Do you love something they’re doing? Then do more of it yourself. (Not copying, but emulating, in your own style and with your own voice.)
Do you dislike something they’re doing? Take that silent criticism and refrain from doing it in your own business, too. (If you are friendly with them, and they seem open to your feedback, you might help them by offering constructive critique.)
Study Your Niche Mates
Ask around your network for who else does similar work that you do.
Write down 5 niche mates.
For each, answer these questions:
From these insights, you can then modify and improve your own business.
Instead of copying, focus on being of Service…
Don’t try to match your niche mates’s offerings, feature by feature.
For each feature they provide in their service, ask how it is trying to solve a problem for clients.
Focus on solving your ideal clients’ needs in the best way you know how.
Niche Mates as Partners
When you find a niche mate that has a similar-sized audience as you, contact them casually, to see if they might be open to finding ways to collaborate or mutually support each other.
Some people might not respond. That’s ok. The few who do respond positively, are abundance-minded like you. Good opportunity to make a new friend!
Why our niche mates can be some of our best partners:
Again, focus on contacting niche mates with a similar-sized audience as you, whatever you can tell of their numbers based on looking at their social media profiles.
If they’re open to collaborating, then help each by introducing content or offerings to each other’s audience, so that everyone can be helped:
A client who buys something is likely to buy another similar thing. The person who follows a topic will enjoy discovering another creator in the same field. Partnering with niche mates can be a win for everyone.
In your research into niche mates, also take note of who is partnering with your niche mates? Who is endorsing them, or introducing your niche mates’ offerings to their audience? They might also be interested in introducing your offerings, too.
If we connect & share, there is more than enough for everyone. There are always more than enough ideal clients. We just need to be more active and caring in connecting with our niche mates.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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