Don’t run away from competition

By Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar

Published: Thu 21 Oct 2021, 11:36 AM

When our business grows, we have to face competition at some point in time. There is no way to avoid it or run from it. In my opinion, healthy competition is essential in making you strong and innovative. Your competitors provide you with a good opportunity to make improvements in your business, products, and services.

I never faced any competition in my early life. In my school and college, I always remained an average student and a back bencher. It benefited me in making friendships with everyone. The talented students and forerunners were not afraid of me at all since they sensed no threat from me. At the same time the average students treated me as one of them and easily accommodated me in their circle. I would think myself lucky, but little did I known that competition was waiting for me in the near future.

I tasted the first sip of competitiveness when I stepped into business. I soon realised that business was a field where you have to face your competitors and struggle to retain your space in the market willingly or unwillingly. Initially, I was a novice, but I gradually learned the techniques of the game. The first rule of survival in business is to not disclose your financial position and future plans to anyone. My father gave me a valuable tip; open your heart to your customers and close your mouth to your competitors. I imbibed his tutelage and still follow it.

The second rule is to keep the competition healthy and sportive. Improve, invest, and innovate every time. Ideas alone lead you to growth, not envy. I have witnessed an unhealthy and envious competition of two brothers. When their father passed away, he left a big shop behind him. The two brothers could not maintain a united front and finally divided the shop into two. They built a partition in between and created separate shops. But foolishly, they started the same business and a bad competition took place which ruined both.

The third rule in competition; don’t waste time countering every move of your rivals. Instead, concentrate on client service and continuous improvement of your own business. Keep in mind that honesty will reward you slowly but surely. I remember a distant incident. A person was working in our shop for many years. He decided to start a business just like us. One day he casually resigned without disclosing his idea and left us. Later I came to know that he had opened a shop nearby. I called him myself, congratulated him and wished him good luck. After some years it was heard that he was caught copying the labels of some renowned brands and supplying duplicate products in the market. Alas! He did not understand that success can’t be achieved instantly, and that too with dishonesty.

The best and the most golden rule is a quote by Scott Cook, ‘So I think instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.’

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading

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