Comparing to the Competition

You have heard me say it before: innovation is about customers, not the competition. 

If you are looking at your competitors to decide your next move, you are doing it wrong. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is never a reason to look at your competition. 

Sometimes you just want to look and compare: so you can learn, so you can measure, so you can determine who would win in an arm wrestle.

When you compare, don’t compare to businesses that look like yours: compare to businesses that function like yours. 

Strategy and goals

Look at businesses that are interested in the same accomplishments you are. 

They may be building similar expectations of their growth and their employees. 

Why are they making the decisions that they are making? How do they manage all the moving parts of their business?

You could gain some insight into decision making and planning. 

Best clients

Who is serving the same clients that you are serving?

Why do they want to serve those clients, and what do they count on to make those clients happy?

You are all sharing the same goal here: making the same target market love you. 

Learn about how others approach, speak to, and serve that market for some fresh ideas. 

Product development 

There are businesses out there that have a similar approach to product or service development. 

How are they thinking about innovation, and how do they work that into the day to day of running and growing their business?

Share thoughts on how to incorporate continuous improvement into your functions. 


Getting new ideas from businesses with vastly different resources doesn’t usually work. 

If you are a 6-person business with no in-house marketing function, you won’t be trying to emulate exactly what Mcdonald’s does to reach their audience, for example. 

Who is achieving a lot with a similar level of resources as you have, in terms of people, budget, time, and more? 

It is easy to get stuck in your way of doing things. Refresh your thoughts by learning from a different business with similar resources. 

And then, do the opposite

Take a quick peek at businesses that are completely different. 

This is not about emulating them in their decisions and actions. This is about getting outside of yourself to consider some truly different ideas. 

What can you learn from their successes and their struggles?

When you compare, don’t do it for the victory: do it for the lesson

To know who you compare to, you must first know who you are. Contact me to facilitate a company session to develop your guiding principles.