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Watch your Competition, never follow them

In between meetings I enjoyed lunch at one of my favorite restaurants near my hometown. I was sitting next to 2 coaches of a local youth soccer team and overheard how they were discussing the strategy for the upcoming season. The first one said that an analysis of 11000 soccer matches showed that one has a better chance to get a high ranking if you can prevent the other team from making a goal. They agreed that would be their strategy: keeping the other team from scoring.

Playing soccer with the focus on preventing the other team from scoring is like trying to grow your business with the focus on preventing your competition from being successful. I don’t believe this is the right mindset. If you want to grow your business, you should focus on your own strengths and on the factors that you can control.

When you’re expanding your product or service to a new country, you don’t necessarily want to blend in or copy what the competition is doing. If you are offering the same thing, why should people change from their current supplier and choose you? Rather think about how you can innovate, be unique and stand out from the crowd. In the ideal scenario, you’ll create a new product, service, need or application and say: Competition? Who?

Off course it is always good to know what your competition is doing. Not only can you learn from their successes, you can also learn a lot from their (sometimes costly) mistakes. My key message: “watch your competition, never follow them”.

I am no soccer expert, but I don’t agree with the strategy from the 2 coaches. You want to teach kids to have a winner’s mentality and you want them to spend their time and energy in the right place. Because isn't it more fun to score that goal than to simply keep the zero on the scoreboard? 


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