Instead of “competitors” think about “niche mates”…

They are either your best Partners, or your perfect Mirrors.

We get fearful when we think of our “competition” — they could “crush” us, or at least, make us work a lot harder than we need to.

Instead, let’s remember that they, too, have families to feed, dreams they hope to achieve, and unknown suffering in their life that would inspire our compassion, if we had a real idea of what they’re going through.

Let’s think of them as “niche mates” — occupying the same niche as us.

We have 3 options:

  1. We can fight each other to the death. Or at least, fear each other for years, generating discouragement, avoidance, or aggression.
  2. We can learn a lot from how each other behaves, since we are trying to serve similar people with our similar skills.
  3. If we get creative, we can figure out a way to grow together by partnering in some way.

People don’t usually think about this. They get swept up by fear, and default to the first option of aggression or avoidance.

They might get “strategic” and sometimes try the second option: learning from one’s competition, but even so it’s usually out of negativity of hoping the competition eventually goes down.

I encourage you to be mindful when you catch yourself afraid. Direct yourself consciously toward Learning or Partnering.

The labels we use influence how we think about others. Let’s refrain from the term “competitor” (aggression) and instead, replace it with the term “niche mate” (suggesting collaboration.)

It can be a win-win

Every single business can have enough clients, if we each became more mindful, active, and caring about creating win-win relationships.

A niche mate is another business, like you, that provides a service that is similar to what you provide, and they might even serve the same type of audience.

A niche mate, like you, has both insecurities and genius zones (that might complement yours.) Like you, they also need to support themselves and maybe a family too. A niche mate also deserves opportunities to succeed. Like you, a niche mate also needs help.

In fact, your niche mates are either your best mirrors, or your best partners.

Niche Mates as Mirrors

It’s very difficult to see how good (or bad) you look, and adjust yourself accordingly, unless you look into a mirror.

Similarly, it’s very hard to figure out the best ways to improve your own branding, messaging, and marketing, unless you look at your niche mates. They essentially serve as mirrors for your business.

When you look at a business that provides a similar service as you, you’re naturally more able to critique and praise.

Do you love something they’re doing? Then do more of it yourself. (Not copying, but seeing how you could do the same kind of thing, in your own style and with your own voice.)

Do you dislike something they’re doing? Take that criticism and refrain from doing it in your own business, too.

Study Your Niche Mates

Who are your niche mates? Ask around your network for who else does similar work that you do.

And use google to find more niche mates.

Write down 5 niche mates that are most similar to what you do.

For each, answer these questions:

  • What are 2 things you like about their services, that you might want to emulate?
  • What’s broken? What’s missing? What’s unnecessary?
  • What’s unique about your services that sets you apart from them?
  • What are 2 things you like about their marketing?
  • What are 2 things you don’t like about their marketing?
  • What’s unique about your marketing that sets you apart from them?
  • Are you addressing the same audience? Or what’s different about yours?
  • What could they be doing differently or better to meet their audience’s needs?

From these insights, modify and improve your own business and marketing!

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.

Ask yourself:

  • Is there a better way to solve this problem?
  • Can I solve it in a different way, in my own style, with my own experience and wisdom?
  • Can I solve it in a way that is more effective or delightful, based on what I know about my clients?

Focus on solving your ideal clients’ needs in the best way you know how.

Niche Mates as Partners

Contact your niche mates casually, to see if they might be open to finding ways to collaborate or mutually support each other.

Some people are stuck in fear and might not respond at all. However, the ones who do respond positively, are abundance-minded as you are. Good to befriend!

Why our niche mates can be some of our best partners:

  • Do your offerings complement each other, and help one another’s audience in different ways or styles that are both important?
  • Statistically, your audience has some people who don’t (and will never) buy from you — and this is the same with any niche mate you talk to. Yet, those same non-buyers may love to buy from your niche mate if they are endorsed by you… and vice versa. In other words, you can be referring a lot of business to each other!

Help one another by introducing your content or offerings to each other’s audience, so that everyone can be helped:

  1. That audience is helped by having an option that may work better for them
  2. The niche mate who makes a sale is helped with getting a new client (or at least, a new reader/viewer.)
  3. The introducer benefits by building trust with all parties involved

The person who buys something is likely to buy another thing similar to it. The person who likes reading a particular topic is likely to enjoy finding out about someone else writing about that topic. Partnering with appropriate and willing 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 yours.

If we connect & share, there is more than enough for everyone.

Always remember:

Through the internet, the world is so large that there are always more than enough ideal clients for you. We just need to be more mindful, active, and caring in connecting with our niche mates.

There are no competitors. Only mirrors to respect and learn from, or partners to work with!

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Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"