Finding the healthy balance when comparing your business to others

I often fall victim to the comparison game. It’s easy to do, especially when people’s most picturesque moments are constantly paraded all over social media. Thoughts fill your mind like, “Well that looks fun, why am I not doing that?” or “Am I behind in life, because I don’t have X, Y or Z?” Comparing ourselves to others has a way of debilitating progress. Especially when running a business. At the same time, however, it can also be a useful tool for measuring the success of your efforts. 

When it comes to comparing your business to the competition, is there a healthy balance?

The dangers of comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

This iconic quote gets to me every single time I hear it. Not only because it is honest, but also because it describes the state most all of us live in every day. The truth is when you’re operating a business, checking up on your competition can sometimes make you take an unhealthy turn. 

For example, whether you are a new or established business, things like your social media following or brand recognition in your market can be discouraging. It’s important to not let these aspects of your business rob you of growth. If anything, they should be a strong motivator. This is true in business, and in our personal lives – spending too much time looking at what others are doing and not focusing on what we can be doing will not lead to success. 

The bright side of comparison

Comparison, on the other hand, isn’t all bad. There are real benefits to setting benchmarks for your business; the key is using the right tools. 

Conduct a competitive analysis

We recommend beginning with a thorough competitive analysis where you identify your competition and analyze their current marketing strategies and tactics. This is a crucial part of any strategic marketing plan and will give you a more realistic view of the competitive landscape.

Identify the competition’s strengths or weaknesses

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to learn from those who have gone before you–both their mistakes and successes. Write down what your competition does well, highlight their strengths and pay attention to areas where they excel. Keep in mind that what works for one business will not always work for another. But knowing what your competitors do well will help you identify ways to improve your business and better serve your customer base. You’ll come to understand their weaknesses and put yourself further on the path to success.  

Use third-party tools to identify areas for growth

Third-party tools like Moz, SEMrush and Spyfu can provide you with in-depth insights into your competitor’s keywords, SEO rankings and paid search. Identifying metrics like your domain authority, keywords to optimize and link opportunities open the door wider for reaching your audience. Understanding your competition’s mistakes and successes plays a vital role in finding areas where your business can get a leg up.  

Find your differentiator and own it

Every business has something that sets it apart, it’s just a matter of finding that unique value proposition. Rather than spending your time trying to copy your competitors, look to yourself and your business. Looking inward is almost always more beneficial than looking outward. 

  • What is your niche?
  • What do you offer that your competitors don’t? 
  • The thing your business does better than the rest? 
  • The areas you exceed expectations? 

If you’re not sure, the best place to start is by asking your customers. Feedback can be a powerful tool in identifying areas we excel. The key to getting out of the comparison game is excelling in an area of business you are already doing well and capitalizing on that. Find your differentiator and then own it. 

Remember there’s still a lot you don’t know

Businesses generally do not share their weaknesses publicly. Keep that in mind when looking at your competition. The view from the outside may seem rosy, but it usually does not tell the whole story. This tends to be most true on social media. Businesses often only share the good things that are going on and tend to withhold the struggles that lie beneath. 

Success is relative

How we measure our success depends on our unique business goals– it’s always relative. Keep that in mind when you wonder why your business is not performing at the same level as your competition. Finding a healthy balance means using comparison as fuel for your business, rather than a reason to feel defeated by it.