Dealing With the Rising Competition
I had a very interesting discussion with a friend of mine who’s been a coach for years now. We were analyzing the rate at which the ICF membership was growing. We looked at the three available ICF Global Studies and he was alarmed at the rate at which the membership was growing within a 5-year interval.
The benchmark research carried out in 2006 estimated the membership of ICF at 11,000. The follow-up research carried out in 2011 pegged the number at 19,000. Looking at the report of 2016, it shows that the number had jumped to 53,300.
Now, this was why he was alarmed.
We did a little math and we saw that the rate of increase from 2006 to 2011 was approximately 73%. But the rate of increase from 2011 to 2016 was a whopping 180%. That’s pretty alarming!
This goes to show that the competition in the coaching industry is rising exponentially. You can’t expect any less from a rapidly growing industry, with an estimated value of $2.4 million and annual growth rate of 14%. Increased competition is a phenomenon that has come to stay.
As we tried to wrap our heads around the numbers facing us and the implications for both old and new coaches, my friend made a remark that I want to point out.
He said that in the wake of the rising competition, veteran coaches like us are faced with three options:
1. First, lament about the situation and hope the good old days return. The days when there were fewer coaches and more clients.
2. Secondly, call it quits with the coaching business and switch to something else. After all, it’s becoming crowded.
3. Thirdly, accept the reality on ground and get strategies that would move your business forward.
Out of these three options on the table, I personally think there’s only one; the third option! You need to deal with the rising competition to hold your stake in the coaching industry.
I’m going to deal with that in a jiffy…
But why do we have this upsurge in the number of coaches?
There are two distinct reasons that I have been able to uncover.
1. The rise of solopreneurship: With the availability of internet and advancement in technology, it is now a whole lot easier for any motivated person to start a business. You don’t need so many people. Your zeal and access to computer and internet is enough to get you started. Most of these solopreneurs are turning to coaches to help them. According to co-founder of BSW Inner Circle, one out of six solopreneurs are willing to pay for the services of a coach. This has raised the demand for coaching programs.
2. Ease of entry into the coaching industry: The requirement to become a coach is not so stringent. If you are able to come up with a coaching program that can help people, then bingo! By merely announcing your coaching program, you can be seen as a coach. However, the challenge is not entering the coaching industry, it is being good at what you do.
Now, let’s get to the crux of the matter.
How do you deal with the rising competition?
There are three ways I think you should deal with the competition.
1. Don’t Lose Sleep Over the Competition
Oops! Did I just say that? Of course I did!
Come to think of it; why border yourself over something you have no control over? It’s pointless. You will only succeed in giving yourself unnecessary stress and headache. It distracts you and makes you paranoid for no tangible reason.
Most coaches spend so much time worrying about what the competition is doing. They want to incorporate so many things in their services, just because the competition is doing so. They focus more on the competition rather than the specific needs of their ideal client.
Should you ignore the competition? Hell no!
The old saying “never underestimate your opponent” still holds true. Just have a general idea of what the competition is like, how fast they are moving, and how it directly affects your business. Other than that, there’s no need to lose sleep over the competition.
2. Face the Competition
Instead of worrying about the competition, try to connect with them. This is what I mean when I say you should face the competition. In most cases, this has helped a lot of businesses.
Reaching out to your competition is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a strategy to gather intelligence on how your services matchup or beats yours, especially if you offer similar services. There’s no point seeing your competition as your enemy. See them as your friends, even though they are your rivals. It may cost you something, but it’s worth doing.
I remember paying a huge sum to get the resources of one my major competition. After going through it, it gave me an idea of what they are doing. I picked a few things that are relevant to the services I offer my clients, and I moved on. I never get too bordered about the competition. Rather, I reach out to them to learn.
There is no need to be afraid of the competition. It is something that has been, that is, and that will still be. Study your competition, learn from them, but never lose sight of your uniqueness.
3. Stand Taller than the Competition.
This is the part I love most. It is a product of a careful study of the competition and innovation. When you take what you’ve learnt from the competition and add your ingenuity, you become better than the competition.
In high school, I wasn’t brilliant. But hell, I was intelligent (and I still am by the way). However, I had this competitive mentality and I always wanted to come out with high grades. To do this, I spotted out my classmates that were good in particular areas and made friends with them. At the end of each term, I come out among the top. (Now you know my secret, but it’s fine).
To deal with the competition and remain competitive, your need to also improve on the value you give out. The mistake a lot of businesses make is to pay more attention to the price of their services than the value. If you bring down the price of your services, thinking that you are being competitive, you are mistaken. You will go down a road that ends in frustration and bitterness. Think of adding value to your services.
For instance, you help people get results in 6 months using certain strategies. Is it possible to get better strategies that will get better results in lesser time? If it is possible, and I think it is, then explore that option. That is how you stand taller than the competition.
A little something to takeaway…
Competition is a good thing. In fact, it is one of the best things that happened to the business sphere. There a lot of things you can benefit from the competition:
- It keeps you on your toes. Knowing you have competition helps you not to be complacent. That awareness drives you to provide outstanding results for your clients. You can’t afford to be lazy because you need to stay ahead of the competition.
- It gives you opportunity to learn from businesses that are doing better. You get exposed to various methods of achieving same goals. That way, your options are expanded because you have learnt variety of ways to serve your clients.
So, stop worrying about the competition, it will do you no good. Reach out to them and see what you can learn. Add some ingenuity to the things you’ve learnt, and you can serve your clients better.
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