I got put in my place by my CPA a few weeks ago when he said and I quote, “bookkeeping is one of those tough businesses because everyone does it.” When I asked for clarification he simply replied, “Everyone has a friend or a family member that does bookkeeping.” It made me feel small. It made me want to change careers because I felt like there was no hope for success. So how do you succeed when faced with so much competition?
Know thy self
I feel that in business and in life it is important to know yourself and what you want. Definition of what you are after is crucial. Your competitors definition of success is most likely very different from your definition. I didn’t start this company to become a big firm. I didn’t get into bookkeeping to become a millionaire. I didn’t want to be this ground breaking startup with the next great idea on the fast track to retirement. Don’t get me wrong all those things sound great it is just not what I wanted. All I ever wanted was a job that would allow me to live the life I wanted. When I truly defined what I was after in life as well as a career I knew that nobody would give it to me but myself. I knew that someone else could give me what I wanted, I just couldn’t think of one good reason why anyone would give it to me. I wanted a job with freedom and flexibility. I wanted to wake up after a night of two feet of fresh snow and go skiing. I wanted to know that when the Salmon Fly hatch on Rock Creek peaked I could go fishing that day. I wanted it all and I wanted it my way I and knew that nobody would ever give me a job like that…so I created it.
Fill a niche
In order to standout in an industry you just need to do things a bit different than your competitors. When you do things differently, you stand out and you will appeal to those people that notice you. Sure you won’t appeal to everyone but show me one business that does. Those that differentiate themselves from the competition stand out to a particular niche market and eventually do really well in that particular market. Anybody can do the same thing as their competitors. Dare to be different and see what it does for your business.
Have fun both with your business and away from it. Nothing is worse than getting up and going to a job you hate. Find something you love doing and make it your job. There are things you just will not enjoy doing no matter what your job is and you should consider outsourcing those tasks. Another thing to realize is your job doesn’t necessarily have to be in your passion, just linked to it. What I mean is consider doing something that allows you to pursue your passion. Take me for example; I am obsessed with fly fishing but I would never even consider being a fly fishing guide. Why? Because guides rarely fish, instead they spend their days watching other people fish. I’ve seen many guides learn to hate fly fishing simply because their job drove them to it. Your job may be fun because it allows you to pursue your true passion in life.
When you get rolling in your new small business the competition can be tough and you will often find yourself comparing your business to those of your competitors. Constantly sizing yourself up against your competitors will drive you crazy. Instead define what success means to you and differentiate yourself from your competition. Remember, if you are not having fun you are doing it wrong.