I know, as a small business owner, it's super easy to be threatened by competition from the big boys out there. It's scary and intimidating. I mean, what can little old me offer that those more established artists or even companies haven't already? Right? WRONG...
We keep falling in the path of comparing ourselves to others. This does not fall short in our artrepreneurial paths but in our everyday interactive aspects as well. I mean, come on, really, how many times have you stalked a social media influencer on instagram, comparing your life to theirs? I fall victim of this too... When I first started doing henna, I kept scrutinizing much more fashioned artists with ultimate jealousy thinking "why can't I be like that?". In reality, this is a horrible way to think. Not only does it damage my self esteem but it lets me hold negative energy against others, which for all they've done was master what they do.
For years, I've tried to replicate their styles, photography tricks and any other aspect I could. It was counterintuitive since it actually hindered my own style from being developed and it made me chase after expectations that weren't really me. I realized that I kept doing this because I was so intimidated by them, it was a result of how insecure I was in myself and my own capabilities as a henna artist. Instead, I decided to completely shift my mind and celebrate their success, rather than relentlessly comparing myself to them. I cannot tell you how much this has lifted a weight off my shoulders. This also channeled a path in finding my own voice and seeing what makes me stand out. It allowed me to focus on my own art and figure out what's different and unique about what I offer in an overly saturated market.
The "community" mindset will be 10 times more powerful than the "competition" one. Not only does it make you grow as an individual, but a saturated market is better than no market at all. We need to stop caving in to our insecurities and give a helping hand to those trying to enter the very same market we're in, not repress them in an attempt to reduce the level of competition.
Here are reasons why I truly believe community trumps competition any given day...
1) IT PROVIDES RESOURCES
If you're about to enter a new profession building it from the ground up and there are zero competitors out there, this may not actually be in your favour. Don't get me wrong, this is not to say that creating something new is bad - you have leading companies like Uber and Amazon that used technology to their advantage and offered entirely new services that didn't exist.
As artrepreneurs and craft makers, it's actually easier entering a saturated market than a non existent one.
I can confidently tell you this, because the resources for it has already been built and developed. When I first picked up henna back in Egypt it was a HUGE struggle. There was literally only one artist I knew of who segmented herself as a natural henna artist. It was a starting point, but it was still problematic because then I'd have to be that much more dependent on that one person. If she wasn't available, I'd be left stumped. I didn't know where to buy natural henna from, I didn't know if my work was good enough and I definitely didn't know how to price it. Entering a market that already has a healthy level of competition will give you insight and allow you to develop positive relationships with potential mentors, suppliers and collaborators.
2) IT WILL MAKE YOU BETTER YOURSELF
Competition will always make you want to better yourself, no questions asked. Think about it, if we lived in a world where there was only one telecom company for instance, they will completely monopolize the market, raise their prices and leave us with a shitty service (excuse my French). But if another telecom company were to enter the market, they'll both healthily compete with one another trying to appeal to the wider audience by: offering better packages, enhancing their phones services, collaborating with phone companies, etc. That's exactly how you should be viewing your craft.
If there's some competition out there, you'll actively look at ways at how you'll plan on making yourself stand out and perfect that craft as much as you possibly can.
I'll be completely candid here, when I'm in Canada I really give my henna art my all because I know there are a million other artists out there who can easily replace me. The minute I land in Egypt, I have clients lined up like crazy and I sort of relax my skills because I know that I'm one of the very few artists that offers natural henna. It's not to say that I'm lazy, but it's just human nature (and I'm usually in Egypt anyway for a vacation so no judgement please lol!).
3) COMPETITION CREATES A DEMAND
Why else would there be thousands of fitness gurus, online educators, hair stylists, photographers, etc? Each category has a high level of demand and that's why these people are actively trying to get a small piece of it.
Entering a market that already has competition guarantees you one thing and that's demand.
Rather than left unknowing whether or not people will acquire your services, if competition is prevalent, you know for a fact that people are willing to pool in their money for it. Again, taking you back to Egypt, Egyptian women would only get henna during their bachelorette parties. I had no idea if they'd be interested in acquiring henna services in their day to day lives. The lack of competition was a disservice to the demand. I know for a fact if there was a higher level of competition more and more people would've wanted henna even in non celebratory occasions.
4) COMPETITION CAN FOSTER A COMMUNITY
Yes, you read that correct. Competition actually builds a community! When I first discovered there were henna conferences, meet ups and even just casual outings, I was totally baffled. These were actually artists just like me who wanted to help me grow, WHAT? But I was their competition. How can that be? It's because competition serves the entire community.
I can't tell you how many times a fellow henna artist has reached out to me passing off a client because they were unavailable or for whatever other reason. I do the same too. Whenever I'm out of town, I'd make other henna artist recommendations and this "pay it forward" technique helps all of us thrive. I've also developed long term relationships with fellow henna peers. I now have an official supplier who I blindly trust! We've met in one of the many henna hangouts and I'm so thankful that I now have something in my business to outsource to someone else, which would allow me to focus on what I do best. Not only that, but we compliment each other very well. What I lack she picks up and vice versa. And if you haven't known already, but my official henna powder and cone supplier is Stain Henna Art - an amazing artist inside and out.
Sometimes competition fosters specifically targeted education for the new comers.
For example, if you didn't know already, black henna is a super dangerous substance and most people don't know that - let alone new henna artists. So that give and take educates newer henna artists to never use black henna and shows them where and how they can get natural henna instead. This would not be possible if there wasn't so much competition out there.
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So there you have it. The ultimate reasons why competition is a GOOD THING! TRUST ME. Just to recap here:
Competition allows you to enter the market knowing full well that there are resources that are already accessible to you
It will make you want to improve and perform better
Competition guarantees and creates demand
It helps build and foster a community which makes everyone flourish