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Who are Your Competitors, Really?

Updated: May 27

runners in a track meet, competitors

As a professional services provider, your competition is often not who you think it is. It’s often not your colleagues in the professional association group you belong to, the so-called competitors across the room in the networking group, or others you see on LinkedIn.

Your competition may be:

  • Substitutes (such as technology, AI)

  • Inertia (“this is the way we’ve always done it”)

  • Procrastination (different from inertia; procrastination is knowing something needs to be done but putting it off)

  • DIY (highly prevalent in small businesses)

  • Another trusted advisor who knows little to nothing about your business, but is trusted by the client (think another family member, a company employee trying to prove their worth, etc.)

  • Changing priorities

  • Overwhelm

  • Fear (of making a decision, of making a mistake, of choosing the wrong service provider)

  • More fear, from the buyer at an enterprise client (of making a bad decision that impacts a bonus, a promotion, or even their job)

  • The individual or department that issued the RFP (who may have written it so that only their predetermined favorite wins, and you can’t figure that out)

  • The budget

  • Client ignorance (a client who thinks they know more about what you do and the potential outcomes than they really do)

  • There are countless others . . .

It’s why, if you're not having adequate value conversations with your prospects to understand common themes, your messaging and positioning might be totally off. It's why those insufficient value conversations with an individual prospect don't uncover who your competitors really are.


Business consultant and coach, author, and podcaster John Ray advises solopreneurs and small professional services firms on their two most frustrating problems: pricing and business development. John is passionate about how changes in mindset, positioning, and pricing change the trajectory of a business and the lifestyle choices of a business owner. His clients are professionals who are selling their expertise, such as consultants, coaches, attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners.

John is the author of the national bestselling book, The Generosity Mindset: A Journey to Business Success by Raising Your Confidence, Value, and Prices. The book covers topics like value and adopting a mindset of value, pricing your services more effectively, proposals, and essential elements of growing your business. The book is available at all major physical and online book retailers.


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