Don’t Try to Be Good at What You Do

Whether you’re an accountant, a business coach or a piccolo player, it makes sense that you want to be good at it. The trouble is that, unless you’re in a really niche sector, you’re surrounded by competitors who are also good at the same thing. How do you stand out from the crowd?


Try to Be the Best?

You could aim for being the best at what you do, of course. In some fields that works. If you’re a hundred metres runner, for instance, you can tell that you’re the best if you hold the world record. If you’re a tennis player, you’re the best if you’ve won more Grand Slam titles than anyone else.

Or are you? Even in statistics-laden sports, that doesn’t always apply. A football team’s striker can count the number of goals he or she has scored, but the midfielder who feeds the ball can’t. As for the goalie, it’s often said the best goalkeepers are the ones that never seem to do much work, because the skill lies in always being in exactly the right place.

The same thing applies even more in most business sectors. How can you really know you’re the best accountant in the world? Or the best copywriter. Even when there do seem to be objective measurements, they often aren’t reliable. In terms of size and success, the Big Four accountancy firms are generally regarded as the best, but many consider the cracks are showing in their performance. In any case, many would prefer a small company with a personal touch.


Try to Be Unique?

Alternatively (at the risk of sounding like Frank Sinatra) you can concentrate on doing it your way. The one thing you can be absolutely sure you have going for you is that no-one else is you. And that will remain true — even if they develop human cloning, since the clone won’t have your experiences.

Of course, being yourself on its own isn’t necessarily enough. Doing it (whatever “it” is) your way has to work for the people who buy your services, or you’re just an isolated eccentric. Still, you’re the one asset none of your competitors have.

When I was first preparing to set up as a freelance copywriter, I obviously researched the most successful copywriters. I checked out their business models, tried to find out what they charged — and yes, I read their samples. That was a useful exercise, but if I’d tried to copy the way they write, I could only ever have been a second-rate version of someone else.


Try to Be Both

By all means try to be the best at what you do, because if you’re not doing that the chances are that you won’t even make it to being good. But the most important thing is to establish in everyone’s mind why no-one does it the way you do.

You may or may not be the best accountant, the best business coach, or even the best piccolo player. But you’ll be the only one who does is your way.


Image by Roman Bonnefoy, used under Creative Commons licence.

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