The very same day I launched my first business (a professionalism, presence, and presentation training program for new lawyers), a clever legal app was launched that gained instant recognition and popularity and was featured on various legal and techie blogs as the must-download legal app of the year.
This business had precisely nothing to do with mine (other than that we were both in the legal space). Still, on that day, day one, I felt defeated. I expended energy feeling envious. I was frustrated that I was not receiving the same recognition (forget about whether I had done anything at that point to deserve recognition). I was distracted from my mission and started looking into theirs, as if there was something to be gained from keeping up with their press releases, articles, and increasing number of Twitter followers.
It was a waste. All of it. As a start, a year and a half later, that app is no longer active. But this is not actually why my energy was misdirected. Even if the app had become the next Angry Birds, there was no sense at all in the negative energy I was expending.
Over the course of my business endeavors, I have learned that there is room at the table for everyone. I have seen direct competitors work together successfully, each with viable, sustainable businesses of their own. One person’s or company’s success does not preclude another’s. Competition is a figment of our imagination. It does not have to be real (we can certainly build a successful business without worrying about the competition, anyway). But, like any fear, it can be as overbearing and debilitating as we allow it to be.