Homo sapiens get spectacularly hung up on size. On the one hand, we’d love to see our business become an inter-continental, ocean-spanning, towers-in-the-cloud world leader; on the other, we’re terrified of competing on such a big scale. Sports teams representing their countries at international contests are taught a lot about how to deal with this dynamic. They are taught The psychology of big-match temperament.
Let’s begin your drive to develop big-match temperament, and ultimately own your industry, by overcoming the scariest possible size parameters.
Finding your market
If Paramount Pictures is to be believed, our potential target markets will one day include Klingons, Vulcans, and, if we can dissuade them from their psychotic need to assimilate entire species, the Borg. But until that day, our market is rather more limited. It’s this spinning blue marble and its seven billion human inhabitants. Just that. That’s as big as it gets.
As you strive to develop big-match temperament, find a good picture of our earth, as seen from space. Find a breathtaking shot that really appeals to you, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time looking at it. Now print it out, stick it on your wall, and caption it: My Target Market.
Why? Well, there are two reasons for this little interior-decorating escapade. The first is that it gets you thinking big; beyond the limits of your town, province or country. It electrifies the bit of your brain that handles possibility-thinking, nudging it toward entertaining the bold prospect of world domination.
Looking over the enticing shapes of continents, your subconscious mind will start ticking away at the mechanics necessary to achieve it.
The second reason is just the opposite of the first. When you stare at the entire world, as one small, round object, defined and finite, it somehow deflates the fear associated with that size. Staring at it, you can observe: There’s the world, and it’s all I’ll ever have to worry about. It never gets any bigger than that.
Narrowing your focus
Now let’s chop it up a little further. In your bid to own your industry, you are not actually competing against seven billion others. Not by a long shot.
For starters, you’re reading this article. One in five people on earth couldn’t manage that feat. Exclude children and people too old to work, and those who are not allowed to work because of restrictive cultures, and you will find yourself among a fairly small swathe of people. And of those, how many are involved in your industry?
Let’s continue: Of the people involved in your industry, how many do you suppose are proactive enough to seek insight and education on how to become prominent; to reach the very top of the pile; rather than simply doing enough to get by?
The fact that you are reading this article means that you have already wiggled your way into a very small demographic indeed. By virtue of your desire to place yourself among the best, you may be competing against a few hundred people; a few thousand at best.
And it’s not about who’s the best.
Do you have to be the most technically proficient, in order to ‘own’ your industry? The answer, surprisingly, is no.
Consider the number people who, to a greater or lesser extent, know how to cook. The figure must run into the billions. That said, are Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay necessarily the best cooks in the world? Highly unlikely.
While it’s important, technical proficiency does not equate to domination of an industry. There are people on earth who are better cooks than the names above, who are less known, and who earn less.
Your expert positioning
That shows us that there is something else at play, and it’s called ‘positioning.’ Top industry icons are using a combination of publicity, personality and wide-spread presence to become household names.
Similarly, the best products also do not necessarily become the best-selling products. Sometimes presence and publicity can raise the sales of a merely good product over a great one, as was the case in the VHS, Beta battle of the 1970s and 80s, in which the essentially ‘worse’ product ultimately took the market.
Sometimes, one key variable makes all the difference.
It’s frustrating, but it happens: One entrepreneur spends years on his craft. His work is impeccable, his standards unimpeachable, his industry knowledge unparalleled. He prospers to a certain degree.
His competition, however, becomes the most easily found on a Google search, and consequently, utterly dominates the industry.
Sometimes one key variable determines the difference between proficiency and market success. A prime example was the ‘as seen on Oprah’ factor, which launched many a multinational career.
Know your real competition
So what conclusions can we reach?
- Firstly, the world is not as big as we initially think. You are competing against a few hundred – perhaps a few thousand – key players.
- Secondly, if you desire to position yourself at the top of an industry, and genuinely strive to accomplish that feat, you are already well ahead of a great many practitioners who have no such desire, which in itself is an encouraging thought.
- Thirdly, there is no need to be awed and put off by highly skilled practitioners. While important, technical proficiency is not necessarily the deciding factor. Prominence and positioning can often count for more, and sometimes, one key variable, such as visibility, can make all the difference to your efforts.
Homo sapiens do get hung up on size. We’re easily awed by competition, easily psyched out by the perceived enormity of an industry.
But there are those who are not. There are those who simply get on with the task of working their way up the rungs of the ladder; who simply look for the leverage and then activate it.
Do you have the big-game temperament necessary to own your industry? When you kick off your campaign with the right mindset, you’re already well ahead of the competition.