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“Don’t waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.” Mary Schmich











Jealousy and envy, two emotions that are bad for personal happiness and for business.

Thanks to social media, there is more scope than ever before for jealousy and envy to take root and hold us back. It’s all too easy to find out what old classmates or colleagues have been up to in the years since you last met, whereas you may not have given them a second thought in other circumstances. Inevitably, most people only give the edited highlights, making sure to sound that good old ‘life klaxon’, which suggests to the outside world that they effortlessly move from one triumph to another without ever hitting the roadblocks you encounter. It’s tempting to make comparisons and to see yourself falling short.

The same goes for how we run our businesses.


Jealousy is bad for your copy

Jealousy comes from a fear of being replaced in the affections of someone important to you. If you’re a small business owner, you may have felt jealous of a new competitor or suddenly become aware of an existing competitor offering a product or service similar to your own. If so, were you plagued with worries about losing your customers or somehow not measuring up to the competition?

What can you do when another business is similar to your own?

It’s tempting to find out as much as you can about what the other business is offering. How much are they charging? What do they include in their price? What’s their customer service like? How do they talk about their products or services?

It doesn’t take much of a leap to think that maybe, just maybe, if you adapt your offering or talk about your business in the same way, you’ll garner the same results as your competitors.


Jealousy is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you try to become a carbon copy of another business, you will lose customers. That’s a guarantee.

Why? Because the voice you use won’t be authentic. Your words will sound hollow, your promises merely an echo of someone else’s vision. Customers will see straight through that. It might be tempting to undercut your competitors or over promise on what you can deliver and when, simply because you don’t want anyone else to gain an advantage, but your customers will be able to sniff the malodorous whiff of desperation.

It’s far better to channel your energy into finding your own voice. Instead of fearing that you’ll be replaced, show people what makes your business special. Really get to know your customers. What do they want in life? How can your products or services solve a problem or make their life look better? What do you deliver that adds value or sets your services apart?

The more you play to your own strengths, the better for business (and your self-esteem).


A deadly sin

Envy is equally destructive (there’s a reason it’s a deadly sin). When we feel envious, we tend to bear a grudge against someone because we want what they have or enjoy. Envy creates a negative mind set because it means we focus on what we haven’t got rather than what we have.

We find ourselves thinking, ‘If only I had more money…’, ‘If only I had more time…’, ‘It’s not fair that they’ve launched that service when I’ve been working on something similar…’, none of which helps us move our own businesses forward.

It’s so easy to get caught up in comparisons, to spend hours doing mystery shopping exercises to find out how much your competitors are charging or to look at a smart new website and concentrate on all the reasons it’s better than yours. Again, it’s the wrong place to focus your energy and can really impact on how you communicate with your customers.

For example, you might find yourself thinking there’s no point in blogging because business X is already seen as the authority in your field, or that you can’t afford to run the kind of high profile marketing campaign which brought business Y to your attention. Without realising it, you can let envy destroy your business.


This town is big enough for the both of us

Generally speaking, unless you run a niche bricks and mortar business in a one-street village, there really is room for competition. You don’t need to parrot another business, under sell or over promise to stay afloat.

Instead, stop focusing on what your competitors are up to and start focusing on your customers. Write every word with an understanding of who they are and who you are; sell the products they want, need or love; market your business where these people hang out.

It’s important to keep things in perspective. As with the Facebook self-publicist who’s forever telling the world how great they are, we usually only see the public-facing side of a business. Even the stories of adversity are usually told in hindsight, as an uplifting example of lessons learned.

While your competitors may be shouting their successes from the rooftops (and you should too), what you don’t see is the long hours they’re working or the tricky customer they’ve dealt with that day or the fact that maybe they’re plagued with self-doubt about whether they measure up to YOU.

If the green-eyed monster has made you fall out of love with your business or constantly whispers in your ear that everyone else has their act together, it’s time to ditch the comparisons. You’re doing the best you can do with the time and resources you have at your disposal. Your competitors aren’t letting jealousy hold them back and you shouldn’t either.

Has jealousy ever affected how you feel about your business? I’ve certainly had my green-eyed monster days, usually when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’d love to hear your stories in the Comments section below.


Photo credit: Citrisblossoms at Deviant Art

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Emma Heasman

Emma Heasman has been an in-house and freelance copywriter for the past 13 years and launched The Freelance Copywriter in 2003. Ever passionate about copywriting, she now works with small businesses to help them write copy that speaks to their ideal customers. Connect with Emma on Google+

6 Responses so far.

  1. Bob Owen says:

    You’ve completely hit the nail on the head here Emma. The more I look at other photographers work the more it plays havok with my own plans and creativity. Time to stop the comparisons and as you suggest, concentrate on my own business and stop fretting about what others do. Great article.

    • Emma Heasman says:

      You’re so right about how comparisons can really affect creativity. I’ve had some real green-eyed monster moments in the past and all they do is amplify the voice of that horrible inner critic. Definitely not good.

  2. Marie says:

    Fabulous post Emma!! It’s so easy to get into this rut of keeping such an eye on your competitors and then you take the eye of your own game plan!
    Thanks Emma

    • Emma Heasman says:

      Yay, so glad you liked it, Marie. I agree that it’s easy to think about what everyone else is doing and lose sight of your own plans or get overwhelmed by lots of different ideas that are working for others but may not be right for you at a specific point in time.

  3. Jess Green says:

    Great post Emma. I sometimes find myself slipping into looking at others with envy. It districts me for a while and actually makes me get into a slump. Thinking “I’ll never be that good, I’m worthless”. I can be hard on myself sometimes. I have to try and quickly pull myself back!

    • Emma Heasman says:

      Yes, I’m the same, Jess. I had a situation recently where I noticed someone has released a service similar to one I’ve been working on but haven’t had time to put out there yet. My immediate thought was that I should give up because someone had beaten me to it but then some good friends reminded me that my offering would be different and that my value is my experience. I think that, while we need to be aware of our competitors, we can’t let their very existence hold us back.

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