My answer to that is heck no. In every job I’ve had, competition has been my number one reason for my failures. I have blamed them for being cheaper, faster, bigger, sexier, and the list goes on. But the truth is my competition wasn’t the only reason I failed.

Don’t we all blame our competition for low sales?

But to be honest, I played my part in my failures. I didn’t do a good enough job, or they just didn’t want what I had to offer. Or my offer wasn’t juicy enough to get them to buy. I was working in corporate sales; that wasn’t an option.

If you are a business owner, making juicy offers is your number one job.

Looking back, I wasn’t smart enough to see the difference between real buyers and tire-kickers. Naturally, I wanted everyone to buy from me, but that is unrealistic. And part of me was just lazy. I was looking for the easy button, so I didn’t have to suffer more rejection.

Some people are just shopping around just in case you have a deal for them.

Think Groupon, deal shoppers who hop from one discount to the next — never to return to you again. Unless, of course, you have another no-profit margin deal for them.

My client, a coach, and I talked about how she could increase her bottom line when the conversation circled to the competition.

More and more people are becoming coaches. They have little to no credentials, she told me. They just called themselves a coach and started helping people. Surprise, many are successful. And one of the hottest niches around is coaching coaches to be successful.

It sounds so funny to say that. But coaches need help too. They need to understand the competition. They begin researching their competition. What are their fees, what’s included in their programs, how many weeks, what does their LinkedIn profile look like, and what are their credentials? All this to see how they measure up to the competition.

Or do they need to compete?

I was reviewing a book recently, The Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, which discusses differentiating yourself to make competition irrelevant. As they explain, most of us are swimming in a red ocean when competing with our existing competition.

The red ocean strategy is trying to beat our competition, exploit existing demand, or make the value-cost trade-off. Markets become bloody with the competition, thus the term red oceans.

So how do you swim in a blue ocean? The place where competition is irrelevant? As Seth Godin tells you in one of my favorite books, Purple Cows, you must be different. You redefine your category.

When Apple introduced the iPod in 2001, everyone listened to music on cassette tapes, CDs, or downloading them from places like Napster. The salesman at Best Buy described it to me as a digital player with 1,000 of your favorite songs. WOW, that was something to wrap my mind around back in 2001. I hadn’t seen anything like it before.

You make your potential customer say — huh. They start to think about what you’ve done in a whole new way.

However, this isn’t like the hair-brained ideas that have belly flopped because it didn’t meet a need. Some fun examples:

• Edsel automobile, 1955 gas-guzzling full-sized car when consumer preference had shifted to compact cars

• Coco-Cola — 1980’s clothing and retail store

• Apple — 1993 Newton handheld PC, $700 PDA

• Colgate (toothpaste brand) — 1982 launched frozen ready-to-eat meals

• Cosmopolitan (magazine) — 1999, launched yogurt line

• Harley Davidson (motorcycles) — 2000 launched a cologne line

• Kellogg’s — 1994 launched their breakfast cereal in India

• Revlon — 19999 launched Charlie fragrance in Brazil featuring the floral scent of camellias. (Their funeral flower is camellias)

A blue ocean is where you have the freedom to set your prices because there isn’t anything like you — yet. They will come, but until then, enjoy. In the blue ocean, you don’t create based on what your competition is doing but what you can do for your customer.

How can you make your customers’ lives better is your mission? And isn’t that the best space to be in? When I seek to add more value to the work I do that is a good day. I love the feeling of paying it forward, because someone was generous with me.

How can you be the ‘purple cow’? What is out of the box, thinking that puts you in a new category. If you don’t know the Purple Cow story, Seth tells us that everyone sees brown cows in the pasture. Everyone expects to see brown cows. Because that is all there is — right?

Nope, what if there was a Purple Cow in the pasture. As you drive by, you would do a double-take. You would tell everyone you know about the Purple Cow you saw. Nobody talks about brown cows.

It makes you smile; it’s funny.

See where this is going. If you’re a brown cow, nobody is going to be talking about you. But if you can be a Purple Cow, well, that is unique. One of a kind. Worth sharing with friends and family.

So, your takeaway here is, competition isn’t your problem. You are in a new niche. A new category. When you consider what niche you should serve, look at what you do better. Your new object is how do you solve the problems of your ideal customer better than anyone else.

Brainstorm this with a mentor, business partner, coach, or colleague. Find someone who is innovative, challenging you to look at your business from the outside in. I have always found it challenging looking at my business from inside out when you’re so invested in your own beliefs.

Practice the game of ‘what if’ when you look at industries that share the same challenges or similar objectives. Innovation often comes from a mash-up of ideas.

My challenge to you is to find someone who will help you find the best niche for you. Finding a niche to date doesn’t mean you have to break-up with your current one. Take it out for coffee to see how it feels.

My executive coaching program helps entrepreneurs find what’s hiding inside their business to make them unique. Reach to me to see if this is a fit for you.

Day 6 of my journey. Only 359 more day to reach my publishing goal.