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Why Comparison could kill your business

When it comes to comparing ourselves to others, we’re all guilty. As entrepreneurs our businesses form a large part of our lives, so it’s no surprise we compare those too. But if you’re engaging in negative comparisons, it’s time to stop.

No two businesses are the same. Even if they sell similar products, they’ll have different goals, structures, plans and staff. Businesses aren’t apples and apples, they’re apples and oranges. You simply can’t draw clean comparisons.

Unless you know all about the inner workings of a business, any guesses you make about it are likely to be wrong.

It follows then, that when you negatively compare yourself with other businesses you’re negatively comparing yourself with your own assumptions about the other business. Which is nuts, right? It’s entirely unproductive. Because you really don’t have any idea about what is going on in that business.

But comparing businesses isn’t always a bad thing.

If you can keep in mind that competitors purposely curate their appearance, you can draw inspiration from them. Positive comparison can help you hone ideas, develop your business and find new product ideas.

Where a negative comparison might be:

Joe’s phone store has more sales than me, he must have more talent than I do.

A positive comparison could be:

Joe’s phone store seems to have more sales than me. What could be the cause? How can I learn from him?

Through positive comparison with your competitors you can learn and develop unique advantages.

Unless you know all about the inner workings of a business, any guesses you make about it are likely to be wrong. It follows then, that when you negatively compare yourself with other businesses you’re negatively comparing yourself with your own assumptions.

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Take for instance the grocery store I live near. For a while, that grocery store served the whole suburb. Now, however, a Lidl and Aldi reside just down the road. The grocery store, despite the new competition, is still going steady.

Instead of drawing a negative comparison, and stating ‘I might as well close now, how can I compete?’ it drew a positive one.

Now, whenever you’re looking for ingredients in Aldi and Lidl and can’t find one, chances are the grocery store will have you covered. By comparing its inventory with Aldi and Lidl, the grocery store could continue to thrive.

I believe that grocery store teaches a valuable lesson. How you compare yourself with others can decide whether you succeed or fail.

Negative comparison-based talk will zap your energy, drain your focus and cost you sales. Positive comparison can help you succeed even in adversity.

It’s not uncommon to worry that others are more successful than you. You might become frustrated watching other businesses succeed, or believe that your products are inferior. But it’s essential to keep in mind that what you’re comparing yourself to is never the full picture. And it’s a waste of energy.

So next time you catch yourself thinking, ‘oh, there’s just no use,’ stop. Reframe. And let the differences between your business and others inspire you instead of frustrate you.

- Lena Klein

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