By and large Millennials have embraced entrepreneurship, haven’t we?
According to a recent study by Bentley University, the career goal of 66% of Millennials surveyed is to start their own businesses.
Everywhere you look there are examples of this phenomenon with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg acting as the ultimate poster child for Millennial entrepreneurial prowess and ingenuity.
Indeed, we feel it is our birthright to work flexible hours, do work that is socially responsible, and utilize our creativity and talents daily on the job.
And when we are not doing this type of work, we feel a miserable sense of longing and envy for those that are.
All this entrepreneurial activity also means something else: competition.
But for the artisan selling his wares or the professional marketing her services, competition needn’t instill fear and worry.
Are you a would-be businessman or woman feeling a little gun-shy about throwing your hat into the entrepreneurial ring? Don’t let a flooded marketplace intimidate you. Here’s why:
You should look forward to competing.
Why? Because it keeps you on your toes. It pushes you to offer better services and products than the other guy in an attempt to woo his customers. So many people are jumping headfirst into business ownership and are only doing the bare minimum with regard to marketing, customer service, and even product development. In their hurry to join the ranks of business proprietors, they are remiss in key areas which means good news for you if you are willing to do some homework and due diligence.
How to make this benefit you:
Once you’ve figured out your service area, identify key competitors in the market. Study them. What do they do well? What makes them so appealing? These are certainly things to respect, admire, and emulate, but take your study a step further and try to discover what they aren’t doing. How is their target market underserved or even disserved? Some solopreneurs make the mistake of putting profits before people. Ash Ambirge wrote an amazingly insightful article about a sobering new trend in online business: a lack of professional values. Their misstep is your gain. Use it to your advantage.
You understand you should make your audience believe it’s all about them.
Because you have learned how self-interested people are. The more they are allowed to discuss themselves and their likes, the happier they are. Yes, Millennials are the so-called “Me Generation” but you needn’t worry too much about competition because you know not to take that alleged self-centered attitude into business.
Why this is important:
You can keep yourself “front of mind” by ensuring you’re not creating content or products that only you deem important or valued. Be sure to routinely consult your audience whenever you can to understand their pain points and then provide them with the solution to those problems. This can be achieved via e-mailed surveys or even comment threads on social media. Open up the conversation by asking what their biggest struggles are as it pertains to you area of expertise and then find ways to eliminate them.
You value YOUR path.
Because you are sick and tired of carbon copies crowding the marketplace and know that as an individual you have your own unique gift to bring to the world. Whether it’s in the coaching field–where the current trend is to make your personality your brand–or in the professional services industry, you know that it’s your own unique voice that will make you stand out.
How to make this work for you:
You have to first find your voice, which isn’t hard, but does take some effort. The first step, begins with owning your story. Who are you? What are some of the same themes that appear and reappear in your life? What type of work are you naturally drawn to? Once you’ve discovered the answers to those questions, seek out communities–online or in person–of like-minded and similarly-experienced individuals and engage with them. The idea is that by authentically connecting with individuals with similar interests, values, and idiosyncrasies, you will feel freer to be yourself and communicate in a way that is simultaneously genuine and unique to you . It will feel good to be yourself, and as a result you’ll be that person more often in a marketplace where there is only one you (HINT: that drives up your value!)
As our world becomes ever more globalized, you can expect competition to become even more fierce. Not to worry though, there are ways to not only stand out, but turn the tide in your favor. Entrepreneurship may not be for the faint of heart, but don’t let a little thing like the spectre of competition count you out.
It polishes you.
And shows you what you’re made of.