How to scale in the face of competition

Gary Turner, co-founder and UK managing director at Xero, on how you can scale your tech business in the face of the competition.

No matter who you are, what you are trying to sell, or who you are trying to sell to – you will always have competition. For any small business owner scaling up against a highly competitive landscape, this might seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.

We grew Xero by viewing competition as an opportunity. By seeing how other businesses ran their operations, we were, and still are, empowered to work harder and smarter. But at the same time, we ensure that we walk our own path and don’t get distracted by comparison, which enables us to offer the best customer experience we can to our customers. Here’s what I’ve learnt along the way – to help others compete at the right scale: 

Obsess about your organisation and your customers, not your competition

You can’t entirely ignore competitors but you’d be surprised how many organisations are crippled by OCD, Obsessive Competitor Disorder. I’m quite often asked who I fear as a competitor, and taking care to not sound arrogant about it, I usually answer “Nobody.” Not because I’m a chest-thumping, war-painted delusional but because ultimately you’ll find that the most likely determinants of your future success actually reside inside your firewall, not outside. 

Trust your instincts

A lot of the decisions I’ve made at Xero were based on gut feelings. You may see a competitor launch something that you have thought about doing already. Think back to why you didn’t launch whatever it was first time round, and don’t be bound by what others are doing. 

Be confident in your convictions. Think about why you launched your business in the first place, and spend the time intelligently mapping out how you can strive forward and develop your product/service. Be prepared to fail and don’t be afraid to drop an idea that doesn’t work. 

Your competitors are usually not smarter than you 

Unless you’re crazy (or smart) enough to want build a start-up to compete with Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence division, your competitors won’t have your individual experiences, values or your own perspectives on what great looks like in your industry. Impostor Syndrome, the notion that everyone else is smarter than you or that you’re somehow now qualified to be doing what you’re doing is more common than you might think. And your competitors will have it, too. So, plough on and do your best work! 

Tap into what it is your customers want 

Your customers wants and needs should be paramount to the product you deliver. Whether it’s via an online survey or a focus group, make sure you know what makes your customer base tick – which will help you win over the customers of your competitors too. 


Use the right tools 

Using the right tools and having a savvy financial advisor can separate you from your competitors. There are countless tools out there for your business ranging from cloud software to AI, and it’s down to you to utilise the most cost-effective choices. The best way to ensure you’re being smarter with your money than your competitors is to work with financial advisors. Trial and error is a good way to learn, but why make errors when you can work with someone who can help you succeed from the get-go? 

Accountants can survey the field of software tools and find you a package that best suits your needs, and help you to use that tool the most efficiently. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it might be the difference between you and the competition.

Networking – The Power of Proximity

Networking used to be an area where my confidence would be challenged. Each time the same anxieties would take centre stage. 🤦🏽‍♀️
😲 I’m going to be surrounded by people I don’t know
😲 I’m going to have to talk about myself and my business. Have I got my pitch right⁉️
😲 Will people even want to speak to me ⁉️

And the list went on. 🤦🏽‍♀️

As you know, networking is an essential if you want business success, visibility, and for people to understand who you are and what you do. So I needed find a way to boost my confidence to settle my anxieties. I remembered a point Anthony Robbins made at an event. ‘The people you surround yourself with have a large impact on reaching your goals. PROXIMITY IS POWER.’  With this in mind, I decided to just chill and enjoy the moment with like minded people. The anxieties started to settle down, there was less pressure to be or perform a certain way. My confidence grew as I began to understand and experience what networking was really all about. Having positive conversations with like-minded people that can support you in business or with your personal development. With that said, I encourage you to get networking and have those positive conversations.

Next Wednesday 29th August 2018, there is a great opportunity to meet some awesome like-minded entrepreneurs. Click Here for more details about the event and to purchase tickets. Can’t wait to see you at the event 😊 .

The Power of Commitment

The Power of Commitment

How many commitments have you made this month?

Each day we make several decisions about various things. The things that get acted upon are usually determined by how committed we are to them or to the outcome.

When we commit, we are trusting the fact that we will go full out and do what is needed to move forward. With this drive, our confidence is boosted and rather than thinking we can’t, we find ways so that we will. This is not just about positive thinking it’s much more than that, it’s a reliance on our confidence and being self-assured. No matter what comes up, we’re going to find a way to make things happen. No matter how scary or challenging issues may be, being committed will drive our need to find a way through.

Can you remember a time when you had signed up for a course, a workshop, or some sort of group agreement? And because you had agreed and committed to the challenge you’d make sure that you did what had been asked of you, even if you had to stay up and do the work the night before. I’m having flashbacks of the many late nights I had completing university assignments the night before the deadline. But see, the power of commitment made me make sure I did the work. When we are committed and when there are others involved too, we make sure we complete everything, because we know we’ll be called to account. If you’re anything like me, you would do everything to avoid any embarrassment or shame. It’s not a good look and our credibility could be questioned.

As a business owner, commitment is a much-needed quality to drive our business and its growth. Commitment to our customers or clients will encourage loyalty and increase credibility.

To ensure that we follow through with our commitments.

  • Get clear about what it is that you want.
  • Let go, or pause other things, people and distractions.
  • Enroll people and systems that will help you keep on track.

And if you fall down, slip up, or mess up. Dust yourself off, learn from the experience and keep going until you succeed.

The Power of Commitment is the Will to Succeed.

Author: Maureen Egbe