The majority of us who lived through the ‘90s are familiar with the character George Costanza from TV’s Seinfeld being a complete nincumpoop that can’t seem to avoid misfortune. But for one episode, George discovers his own key to success–doing the opposite. Sitting at lunch in the cafe with Jerry, George decides that since everything he seems to do causes him trouble, he needs to start doing the opposite. Instead of ordering his usual lunch with coffee, he orders a different entree with tea. Upon seeing a beautiful woman that he would normally say nothing to, he decides to strike up a conversation. When he normally would have told her some type of egregious fabrication about himself, he instead tells her that he’s unemployed and living with his parents. The woman admires George for his honesty and decides to go on a date with him. This fine example just goes to show that sometimes if something isn’t working for us, we need to change and go in the opposite direction.
This goes for businesses as well as people. In a world where innovation and trying to become “the next big thing” are the focal points of most businesses, stopping and going in the opposite direction may actually be the best move. Take a company like Netflix for example. In the mid-2000s, there was an arms race to offer DVD rentals over the internet. Blockbuster locations were dropping like flies and online rentals were becoming the go-to for renting movies. While the convenience of not having to leave your house to receive movies was a massive step in the right direction, customers were still having to wait a couple days for the DVDs to show up by mail. This is when Netflix decided to go in a different direction–online streaming. By offering movies and shows via streaming, there were no waits, no hassles of mailing returns, and no need for even the DVDs themselves. By making this choice to go in the opposite direction of their competition, Netflix has become the most popular movie-subscription service in the world.
All too often, companies or businesses get so wrapped up with trying to keep up with what their competition’s doing, that they lose focus on themselves and what they need to be doing. The fastest way to separate from your competition is to stop acting like them. By going in the opposite direction, you create a niche for yourself and can bring more attention to your business. To determine how to go in the opposite direction, take a look at your own goals for your company. How are you working towards those goals? If the answer to that question resembles the answer that your competition would provide, you need to start thinking of other approaches. By showing that you’re willing to go against the grain and do what others might be afraid to do, you will generate interest and buzz among potential clientele. So if you’re having trouble keeping up with your competition in 2015, you might want to consider doing a 180.