I hate Chris Guillebeau. Actually, it is more of a jealousy issue. He just published a great free PDF, on a topic very similar to what I am working on. The problem is that he did an amazing job and to make matters worse, he has lots of subscribers and followers who are spreading the word, including Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. I don’t really hate Chris, of course. I love his blog and have been following his work for a while now. He has just forced me to re-evaluate and adjust what I am doing.
How to Compete with Experts
A quick internet search will show that there is no shortage of competition for any business you may be thinking of. It is unlikely that anyone can have a truly unique idea anymore. Everything we do is building on the work of others, so don’t expect to find something unique. If you have thought about it so have hundreds or thousands of others.
That kind of competition is good. If others are out there making money from the same idea, it shows that there is an opportunity and a market. If there is no competition, you should ask yourself why and really question whether your concept has merit or not. Chris’ free report and the success of his site has demonstrated a huge interest in people wanting to quit their jobs, earn money online and travel. Of course, I can’t be stupid about it either. I am not going to compete with all the make money online niche sites out there. Especially, since I am not making any money online. Anyone would be foolish to go up directly against established competitors, but that doesn’t mean there are no more opportunities.
With the speed at which technology and the world in general are changing, it can seem futile to try to begin at the bottom and gain some skills in a particular field. Sometimes tasks seem insurmountable, so we are afraid to start. Take web development for instance. Someone new to website creation has to fight through CSS, HTML, PHP, ASP.NET, SEO, hosting, marketing, design, etc. It can really be over-whelming. How can you ever compete against all the incredibly talented people out there in the world who already have a huge head start? You compete by doing one thing at a time, one day at a time. Everybody in every industry or field has had to start somewhere. Every successful person has put in countless hours improving their craft, knowledge and skills.
Competition is an ugly word. It naturally assumes a winner and loser. I think the economics of online communications are bigger than that. We all are sharing more, learning more and have more access to an amazing wealth of free and fee based information and services. We are all better off then the past. The ability to easily and instantly research, discuss and connect with ideas and people around the world astonishes me everyday. We live in great times!
I think Chris would be the first to say that we are all part of an expanding pie. Our knowledge and experiences are not a finite commodity like oil or copper. No one get out-Seth, Seth Godin. And no one can out-Chris, Chris Guillebeau. One of the many things that Chris has reminded me is that, we each need to find our unique angle or niche in the world. No one will be able to out-me, me. The problem is that I have to discover, focus and promote what that “me” is.
Focus on the One!
Most people are dreaming about or working on many ideas, including myself. I currently have about 10 web sites in the works, in addition to my main business of running an English school in Japan. That means that no single idea gets the attention it needs. I am trying to outsource as much as possible but I also really need to prioritize and decide what is the one single concept that I want to be known for.
Unless, you have a lot of money to hire talented people, “radical exclusion” is absolutely necessary. I call it focusing on the one. Success in any field comes from focusing all of your energies and talents towards a single path. Everything else is a distraction. It is fine to have hobbies and to pursue other interests, but your career requires 50 plus hours of your undivided attention if you want to be world class. If you don’t mind being mediocre, than by all means continue doing many things. Many people are perfectly happy putting in their hours at work, just so they can have fun on the weekends. I just don’t want to be mediocre anymore.
The difficult part for most people is choosing one and only one thing to focus their energy on. If people had a single life purpose, the steps required to advance would be very clear. It is very easy to get anywhere, if you know where you are going. The trouble most people have is that they are unable to decide on or commit to only one choice of action. It is impossible to figure out how to get somewhere when you don’t know the ultimate destination.
Work Harder than Everyone Else
Any talented athlete, musician, artist, programmer, puts in literally thousands of hours to hone their skills. And for the best, the learning and improving never stops. It is impossible to ever be perfect. There is always room for improvement. Discovering how to be great at anything is actually the easy part; all you have to do is put a lot of focused effort into the area you want to improve.
In every industry and every field you can be assured that quality will increase and prices will go down. Success is not measured by a one time accomplishment. Your legacy will be judged by a lifetime of consistent improvements and progress. So many people spend all their energies on the planning stages of their dreams, and very little on the actual doing. Planning can be valuable but don’t waste too much of your time. Just start something. You can always improve and learn from your mistakes if you are trying. Waiting until conditions are perfect will mean that you will probably be waiting for your entire life.
Chris Guillebeau raised the bar on what I want to do. I will need to refine my message, focus and work harder to deliver the type of quality the world now expects. Chris is not my competitor, he has become a role model.
In case you didn’t pick it up in the post, you really should subscribe to Chris Guillebeau’s blog, The Art of Non-Conformity and read his pdfs, including the amazing, 279 Days to Overnight Success. Chris is currently well on his way to visiting every country in the world before he is 35 years old.