Home > Business > Are you afraid of the competition! Don’t be!

Are you afraid of the competition! Don’t be!

If you put a group of crabs in a jar and leave the top open, none of them will escape. This is because as one crab starts to climb out, the others pull it down again, so non make it to the top.

I have observed this phenomenon at work in politics, in churches, organizations, families and the list goes on.  Once someone starts to rise up above the rest, the rest gang up against them and pull them down. After a certain level is exceeded many feel threatened by that success. This evokes strong resistance from those who are by standing.

What causes people to feel pain when someone rises above them? How does someone else’s success affect another in a negative way? There is no correlation between the next person’s success and another’s.  If a competitor gets a major contract, that doesn’t affect my chances of getting the next tender.

Scarcity mentality that makes us believe that if the next person succeeds, it is at my expense. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours burn brighter. Pulling down the next person doesn’t make you succeed any more than you have already done.

We should be happy to celebrate success instead of being threatened by the success of others. There are things to be learnt from the successes of others. There are areas that can be developed so as to succeed. Every failure is an opportunity for growth. Competition is healthy in business. A healthy and fair competitive environment benefits business and consumers alike. Competition results in lower prices for the consumers and an overall better service because the companies have no option but to step up their game and compete.

The African way doesn’t take kindly to competition and squash the competition at any cost. I can think about the cartels in South Africa. Big bread companies fixing bread prices and pushing smaller bakeries out of business. Cell phone companies fixing call charges and refusing to lower them significantly. These are all examples of pulling other down. How can the small business grow in such an environment.  

The Econet story is a classic example of the crab effect. Econet proposed to start the first cell phone network in Zimbabwe, but was blocked at every level. The big elephants realized that this was an opportunity and instead of competing with Econet, they sought to stop it in its tracks. The company went through a tough lengthy and costly legal battle that lasted almost seven years. Econet is the market leader in telecommunications sector after facing such a huge set back.

As a business there are areas that can be developed that will set your business apart from competitors without having to use backhand tactics. Price is not the only area to compete on, but can focus your strengths. Below are a few areas that can give a competitive edge.

Personal service

Quality of product or service

Special pre or post sales services

Faster, or more frequent, delivery

A strong and attractive company or brand image

Better packaging

Better understanding

Specialized distribution

Greater flexibility – e.g. with small or complete orders.

By developing your competitive edge, you set yourself apart from the competition. They may try to pull you down, but by setting yourself apart and targeting your marketing, you will become a force to be reckoned with. By developing your competitive edge, you will not need to pull others down when they succeed. Find your own niche, focus on your strengths, stay ahead of the pack and you will not have to worry about the crabs. By the time they realize what you are up to, you are way ahead of them.

Categories: Business
  1. February 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

    They are games or activities that help break the ice and get things flowing. Then have them each write down 4 things about themselves that no one else in the room knows. Play continues around the circle with each person naming the first person and the city they named and working around through everyone that preceded them.

    • February 9, 2011 at 9:55 am

      It always helps to do something practical. Thanks for that. Will try that at one of our workshops.

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