How old were you when you first started comparing yourself to friends and competing with them for attention? It’s a habit women develop at an early age – and for many of us, it takes root in our character and begins to tear us apart. It starts with the Fashion Police in middle school and continues beyond wardrobe into relationships, careers and other achievements. The evil stepsisters of Envy and Jealousy become our lifelong companion permeating our self-esteem in every area of life. I don’t know when it started for me, but I have to battle the urge to compare myself to others sometimes. 

As entrepreneurs, we make the same dangerous comparisons in our businesses. We think we’re in competition with everyone who has ever been in business. We look at what someone else has accomplished and wonder why we can’t achieve those same goals. We make excuses for her success – “She doesn’t have children!” or “Her family is wealthy.” 

I had one client who was so concerned about her main competitor that she checked her website every day and flew off the handle at each new announcement of success. Another one of my clients went into a deep depression each time a similar business opened in her area because she was certain her business would suffer. 

It’s true that being a successful business owner requires a competitive spirit. You have to find that motivation – the drive to achieve your goals. And you have to protect your intellectual property and be smart about your business practices. But you don’t have to beat yourself up emotionally by comparing your journey to someone else’s success. Business ownership is not a competitive sport – it’s a team sport. 

Three Surprising Truths About Competition in Business

1. Independence is Not All it’s Cracked Up To Be. I used to think the best thing about being an entrepreneur was the independence that came with doing MY own thing – when and where and how I chose. Now, I realize, the greatest gift of being an entrepreneur is the limitless possibilities of interdependence….of collaborating with other brilliant women who will bless me, my business and my clients with their gifts. That’s why I created the International Christian Mompreneur Network. Together, we are stronger, wiser and more successful that any one of us could be alone. If you are flying solo in all areas of your business, you should consider finding a few women who can help you create a circle of interdependence. A mastermind group would be a good start!

2. Competition is Killing Your Business. How many times a day do you think about your competitors? Do you wonder how that other photographer got the assignment that you deserve? Have you found yourself thinking the new caterer on the wedding scene must have some sort of magic fairy dust on her menu? Are you secretly wishing the personal trainer that opened a gym down the street from yours will go bankrupt quickly because she’s stealing your clients? Every time you allow these thoughts to cross your mind, you’re stealing valuable time and energy from your own business growth. Do yourself a favor and catch yourself the next time you have a jealous or envious thought about a competitor. And then ask yourself instead, “How can I partner with someone in a way that will grow both of our businesses and better serve our clients and customers?”

3. Women Really Do Want to Support One Another. Despite what you may be experiencing in your personal circles right now, women in business really do like to see each other succeed. There is more than enough success to go around for all of us. And if we stick together, we’ll all reach our goals more quickly. If your friends and business associates don’t feel this way, maybe it’s time to surround yourself with women who do. After all, we are called to love and serve one another, comfort and encourage one another, forgive and accept one another…not compete with and destroy one another. 

No matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey, now is the perfect time to ditch the competition and invite some collaboration. What are you doing in your business to collaborate with others? Share your successes here!

Theresa Ceniccola is a mother, writer and entrepreneur with a passion for connecting other Christian women and helping small business grow. As a marketing and PR professional, she launched TGC Communications, LLC in 1994 and has been working from home to serve clients and follow her passion while raising a family.  She is also co-founder of www.writetohealth.com, a guided journaling practice dedicated to helping people discover the health benefits of writing. You can connect with Theresa on her blog.

Publication date: September 27, 2012