Don’t Compete, Innovate

In the early days of Crisp, I was very concerned with our competition. I thought about the features they had (that we didn’t) and the services they offered (that we didn’t). Everything they did, I compared it to what we were doing (or weren’t doing).

Things have changed in the past two years. I wrote and published a book, The Game Changing Attorney. We launched our annual law firm growth conference called the Crisp Game Changers Summit. We created the Crisp Ambassador program and started giving away Teslas (and a Ferrari). 

Today, as I look back over this period of exciting growth for our company, I realize our focus has shifted away from our competition. I mean this respectfully: I haven’t thought about our competitors in several years when making decisions about Crisp’s future.

It’s not that I’m ignorant of who they are or unaware of what’s going on in our industry. It’s just that I’ve realized something: Competition is about the past. It’s not about the future. 

At Crisp, we don’t compete. We innovate.

If we spent our time focused on what our competition was doing, at best we’d match their results. That doesn’t interest us. We’re focused on creating something new. 

When You Look Around, You Slow Down

When a football player breaks away for a touchdown run, or a basketball player is screaming toward the goal for a breakaway dunk, do you see them look back or out to the side?

Of course not. Their eyes are focused on what’s in front of them. If they took their eye off the goal for even a second, it would cause them to slow down and they’d risk getting caught.

You can’t focus on what you’re doing if you’re preoccupied with what your competition is doing. Also, you can’t influence what’s going on inside other organizations, but you can influence what happens within your organization. 

In the early years with Crisp, my effectiveness suffered because my focus was split.

It can take time to throw off the shackles of comparison. Writing my book was a big step for me. I didn’t write it because someone else wrote a book and I thought we needed one. I wrote it because I wanted law firm owners to have a resource that helped them differentiate their practice, stand out from the competition, and become the obvious choice in their market.

When we started the Game Changers Summit (our law firm growth conference), nobody in the legal industry wanted another boring legal conference. Nobody. 

To establish ourselves, we created an event that’s a cross between a business development seminar and a rock concert. No lawyer has ever attended an industry conference like this one. If I was simply looking to model the other conferences in our industry, I’m certain our conference wouldn’t have made the impact it’s made in the first two years.

Distance Yourself from the Competition

In the past, I used our competition as the measuring stick for our success. Were we bringing in more or less revenue than them? Attracting fewer or more new clients? Offering better or worse services? I learned that when you play the comparison game, it hampers your growth.

At Crisp, we no longer compare ourselves to other companies. Our measure of success is how much value we create for our clients. Since we shifted our mindset in this way, we’ve doubled every year as a company and carved out our own space in the marketplace.   

Keep in mind: this wasn’t always the case! To get here, we had to stop chasing the competition because it was running us in circles. Once we climbed out of the rut we’d dug for ourselves, we shifted our focus to innovating, creating value for our clients, and creating a market of our own.

What Causes Us to Keep Peeking Over Our Shoulder?

The more I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to realize that what keeps business owners focused on their competition is their mindset. When you operate with a scarcity mindset, you believe there’s a limited amount of clients, revenue, and other resources. Therefore, you’ve got to watch what everyone else is doing to see how much of the pie they’re eating. (Lest they eat a piece of yours, right?) 

But if you have an abundance mindset and believe there’s no limit to the clients, revenue, and resources that are out there, you don’t worry about competing with anyone. 

What you might not realize is that the wrong focus can make you an easy adversary. If you’re just focused on money, once you reach the level you’re trying to hit or surpass the competition that you’ve been focused on, there’s a good chance you’ll let your foot off the gas. At that point, the company you thought was in your rearview mirror will go roaring past you because they’re focused on value creation, innovation, and making a greater impact in their space.

Having a motivation that goes beyond money makes your thirst for growth one that cannot be quenched, and you never let your foot off the gas because you have no end destination. You simply love the journey.

Stop Comparing if You Want Different Results  

To free your mind up to innovate, you have to let go of what’s happened in the past. If Henry Ford was focused solely on beating his competition, he would’ve made a faster horse.

When I started Crisp, I had no idea how a video production company was run. Everything I put in place was based on what I thought our client experiences, processes, and systems should be like. If I had based everything off what other video production companies had done, at best we’d have gotten their results. 

Once I finally freed myself from the comparison game, it unleashed the innovative power of our team and we became the fastest growing video marketing company in the nation.

If it happened for us, it can happen for you, too. Ask yourself: What might happen if our organization stopped looking outward… and started looking inward?  

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