Keeping an eye on your competition isn’t out of the norm, but it may not be the best way to stand out. It’s easy to compare – and, sometimes, it can even feel like human nature. Comparison is how we understand where we fit in amongst the crowd. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be so cutthroat and all-consuming. It’s possible to make a name for yourself in a competitive field without engaging in the antics of real competition.
This is what Zara Harutyunyan, the lead clinician at the Cosmetic Rejuvenation Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, swears by. Harutyunyan has made a significant name for herself in one of the most competitive fields in Beverly Hills: natural beauty facial procedures for the wealthy and famous. Here are her recommendations on how to stand out in a competitive field.
1. What Can Be Done Better?
Many approach competition from the standpoint of seeing what others offer, then trying to “beat” the offer with something more enticing. This is the wrong way to go about it. Harutyunyan says she began to see real success when she simply looked for what could be done better.
“I was interested in how I could help clients achieve the ‘less is more’ look, or a more natural appearance through the procedures,” she explained. “This was a very different avenue from the other plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills, but ultimately, what encouraged clients to refer their friends and family members to me. I just knew there had to be a way to bridge the beauty requests clients were making with a more natural look – like Botox without anyone knowing it’s Botox.”
This creates a level of experience and expertise that speaks louder than whichever business or individual in your field has the most press or the loudest reputation. “In my experience, patients don’t really come for the name on the labcoat. They see through that,” she stated. “They come for your experience and what you can offer them.”
2. Find Your Niche Within Your Industry
Harutyunyan credits the source of this idea to simply the fact that she loves what she does. “It sounds cliche, but I truly love what I do so much that I work six days of the week with a smile,” she reflected. “Clients can always tell when you love what you do, and that energy rubs off on them. My love for what I do has also encouraged me to be playful and inquisitive with the work, so I’m always looking for ways to improve, to expand, and to make clients happier.”
Every competitive industry has some niche that you can dominate – and, if you’re the expert in one thing, it can make you stand out in the industry overall. These ‘niches’ within your industry will target your customer more specifically.
“You have to niche down through what you love, rather than what seems to be a gap in the market,” Harutyunyan explained. “Often, the two will overlap – if you love it, you’re likely to identify where the gap is.”
3. Consider Your Competition Your Colleagues
Competition can get fierce when it’s business vs. business or individual vs. individual. And in this cutthroat game, it’s easy to be tempted to play dirty. Harutyunyan strongly urges against this. “You need to view your competition as your colleagues, and be in an abundant mindset. There are truly enough patients or clients for everyone,” she encourages.
“Bad mouthing your competition is not a good look, and in my experience, it always comes back to bite you. Obsessing over someone else and their business model is also a great way to self-sabotage. Focus more on what you love and what you can bring to the table,” she added. When you can speak in a positive, encouraging way about your competition (especially from the standpoint that they’re your ‘colleagues’), you open up opportunities for collaboration, and you also show significant players in your field that you have confidence in what you can offer. There’s no need for drama or criticism.