Viewing your competition as “others in my industry” or “people who do what I do” leads to a special kind of myopia. Namely, mixing up your “industry” with your “market” shows you a skewed picture of your competition while skipping many viable alternatives.

For example, both BMW and KIA make cars and are clearly parts of the same industry. At the same time, there’s probably no customer deciding whether to buy a BMW or KIA, as they are considered viable options for fundamentally different reasons. In other words, they are not in the same market, and changing the price of one will not affect the sales of another at all. The same can be true for two law firms in the same city, or even two designers on Upwork.

At the same time, a candy shop selling everything sweet except chocolate goods next to a chocolate shop is still a textbook example of competition, although the exact technologies don’t actually overlap. They solve the same problem for the same people, and that effectively makes them competition.

Defining your work mainly in terms of the specific symptoms and problems you can solve for your clients will automatically calibrate both you to at last think about the relevant set of alternative solutions when you are considering “competition”. That’s the only way that you can come up with an offer that your clients will recognize as realistic and in proper context.


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