I’ve owned a small business full-time here in Columbus for almost 6 years. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about competition. I hear whispers about feuding businesses, petty gossip, jealousy. After reading Kayla’s tweet (below), I decided to share some thoughts.
Digging Deeper Into Competition
Last year, I partnered with two other female photographers* for a passion project. We photographed the same 10 women independently in our own style (see our work here). It would be easy for someone else to casually lump us together and label us as competitors. While it may be true to a certain extent, it’s not as simple as that. It became really obvious in how we work, how we collaborate and the final 30 photos.
Plus, by getting to know other photographers in my community, I can better refer work to them and only take on clients that truly fit with The Wonder Jam.
Need more convincing? Here are specific examples of how we’re different:
- We engage with our clients differently (all positively)
- We edit differently (and spend different amounts of time editing)
- We have different equipment
- Our financial goals are different
- We have different hobbies, influences and friends
- I have a studio, Megan Leigh has a joint studio with another photographer, Autumn does not
- Fundamentally, we see our photography very uniquely
I’m at the point in my career as a designer and photographer where I understand my own uniquenesses and strengths and I can truly say that I don’t see anyone as competition. If you’re seriously considering my business and another, I can probably help you figure out who’s the better fit.
The first time I encountered competition through the lens of my clientele was inside of our own sales funnel (back in 2014).** An inquiry popped into our inbox from someone who was a direct competitor to one of our current clients. I felt torn. We told them that we couldn’t work with them. It would be a conflict of interest. BUT HOLD UP. Let’s define what I mean when I say “direct competitor” :
- They knew of and followed our client online
- Their key ingredient was the same as our client’s key ingredient
- They referenced our client in the inquiry email positively
When I read this list now, I laugh. They hadn’t sold a single product at that point. They didn’t have a logo, brand, messaging, photography or online shop. The idea of competition was just that – an idea.
I would go so far as to say that we’re using the term “competition” too specifically. I’d challenge you to stop thinking about those who offer the same product or service but rather where your customers are spending their money (instead of spending it with you). I go in spurts where I invest in massage, facials, acupuncture, manicures and skincare. I already know which studios, brands and stores are for me once I decide what thing I want to buy. Specific brands speak to me. Others do not.
Creating Work for Competing Businesses
Competition now flows in and out of our door with ease. We serve coaches, salon + spas, fitness studios, designers, photographers, restaurants, cookbook authors, fashion retailers, skincare companies, real estate agents, woodworkers and more. Through our own creative work and local events, we connect with your competition every day. It shouldn’t scare you.
With all that being said, I’ll help your competition become the best small business that it can be. I’ll help your small business be it’s best, too. I truly believe it will make the community stronger, it will challenge you and it will help me strengthen my muscles in problem-solving. I won’t share your secrets, your stats, your failures or even your successes. Promise.
**If the term “sales funnel” makes you cringe like it makes most, check out one of our latest podcast episodes.