Not all competitors are direct competitors.

You are not only competing against people whose business cards have the same words as yours does. Your clients could also find a whole new option or direction that eliminates their need to hire you at all. 

Understand how you can be replaced. 

Replacement competitors

There are various ways in which you can be replaced by another service or product. Your clients can, at any time, change their minds about what they want to do. If they change their plans, their preferences, or their goals, then they will also change their requirements. And will they still need you?

A new way to do it

Your clients could select a new way to do the thing you were trying to do for them. 

In a recent and popular example: coffee shops were regular meeting places for friends, or business contacts, or freelancers, even job interviews. All these events are still happening, but mainly on Zoom or another online meeting platform. 

Or people may choose to meet in parks and bring their coffee, or none at all. 

Or somebody might decide that they could be more efficient with their time if they meet over lunch rather than coffee, and move their business to a restaurant. 

What could your clients choose to substitute their need for you?

A new thing to do

Your clients could also make a choice that eliminates a need for your work. 

The guy who used to take notes on a notepad and switched to a keyboard no longer needs pens. 

The runner who switches to ballet stops buying running shoes and starts buying ballet shoes. 

The homeowner who found a sudden great deal on the perfect house no longer needs that renovator to redesign his kitchen. 

What could your clients do that eliminates a need for your service?

Don’t forget your lateral vision

Remember to think sideways when serving your clients: don’t forget all the choices they can make and how they might make them. And know what you have to do to remain the best option