a makers guide

Competitive Landscape Pt. 2


Your story. Your competition. And a few things in between.

As you prepare to launch your company busy days, emotions, hopes and of course the nervous elation of finally seeing your dreams come to reality soon takes over. No more wondering what you were made to do. You are living it! At the start of this and any other journey, you embark with the hope that your efforts are headed towards world-changing results. But like all parents know, it is the single efforts of every small day that build towards those life-altering long-coming results. Your everyday strides are what make this journey a journey dear maker. Every choice, every block, every decision and every turn builds up the purpose of your mission. You are here to change the world–your world.

When you step out, you are stepping out  as a leader in your community. You as the sole proprietor, or perhaps a partner, are the driving force behind your beginning and every adventure which lies ahead. Knowing when to launch, how to introduce your product and who to make it accessible to are your top priorities. In my experience, one thing guaranteed to catch and keep your customers attention is your story. Tell your customers everything that sets you apart. The story of how you came to recognize your dream. Tell them all you have overcome to arrive at today. Tell them your plans and hopes to grow your dream. Tell them how they are your mission–who you are here for. Tell them every single beautiful celebration of your story.  Like your new company, the story of how you got here is unique and memorable. Every good and beautiful thing comes with a good and beautiful story. Tell them what you want them to never forget.

“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story. ” Mary Lou Kownacki

When startups hit the competitive landscape, the market’s terrain shifts to make room.  Companies like Pinterest, Instagram or Airbnb hit the scene and changed our world as we know it. It isn’t uncommon for brand new startups to encounter roadblocks as soon as they open for business. What is uncommon however, is finding a startup that not just survives the challenges, but grows better for them. Instagram hit the market with $0 in the marketing budget. What was the growth? Fanaticism. Customer loyalty and word of mouth grew this startup into a billion dollar company. Airbnb overcame unforeseen scandal in their first year only to see their value hit $1billion in their third year. What made the difference? They never lost focus on their mission–customer satisfaction. 

If your audience is your mission, Your competition is your greatest ally.

Last week I shared that your audience is your mission. Who you are serving and what you are serving them with is everything. They are the very reason you are doing what you are doing. Much like your mission, your competition is the “tell all” clue as to what you are doing right, what you aren’t doing enough of and where you need to up your game. Your competitive landscape is the ecosystem where your startup will live, thrive or die. Every startup inevitably changes the market landscape. Meaning: When you enter the scene, you will shift the terrain. You want to make you mark count dear maker!

“Without great management and stewardship, creativity – like fireworks – will flash and then dim to dust. Creation must be made accessible for consumption. This is your real job. It takes struggle that you genuinely believe is worth the pain,” – Scott Belsky, entrepreneur, author, investor, and Adobe’s Vice President of Products-Community.


What is my advice for setting yourself apart?

Make your competition irrelevant and make your audience your world. Your product or service has to be so great, your market drops everything they were doing before to come see you shine. Likewise, your product is the focus of all of your marketing and your story is what they should never forget. When an advertising pitch strays away from the purpose of its existence, it threatens to confuse their audience. Keep your mission and focus simple dear maker. Your passion is what the market is hungry for. Let your fire burn with excellence. Keep a sharp eye and your attentiveness even sharper. The proof of your success will always rise from the praise of your customers. Lend an ear!

Until next time,




Buy the book

Never miss a post! Subscribe below!



Where are you falling short?


I'm here...now how do I get there?


Today marks the end of our “Living with Intention” series here at A Maker’s Guide. Not to worry, we will be embarking down a brand new avenue in this entrepreneurial journey next week! Before we officially close this chapter however, I would like to leave you with a few simple nuggets of insight.

After 5 strategic weeks of delving into your daily habits, I am quite certain you have uncovered a place or two where would say you are “falling short”. Whether you feel short on time, energy, results or follow-through know this one thing..we all are right there with you! Though uncomfortable, acknowledging the realities of who you are and what you do in the present circumstances, reveals who you are headed to become.


"You become the company you keep, so choose the relationships you want to nurture wisely." -Claudia Chan


I like to think of everything in my life as an asset. My time, education, possessions, relationships, current projects, work history, past experiences, past accomplishments, and so on are all included. When you begin to break apart your shortcomings as well as your successes, you see the invaluable outlets as well as those pesky stumbling blocks. Now ask yourself this: Are you putting too much stock into your weaknesses and not enough into your strengths? This question can quickly become two-fold.

  • Take Facebook for instance, this social media outlet is both a distraction and a networking asset. Are you putting too much time into the “entertainment” portion and not enough into the business networking services it provides?
  • What about your website? Though this will be the first place a potential clients will look for your information, are you struggling to produce the quality web presence your business deserves? Is it time to delegate these crucial duties to a someone who can make your site a priority?
  • And then there is the often overlooked "practice and training" portion of your business. Are you allowing yourself to be taken over by too much paperwork and not enough hands on training? Continuing to fine tune your craft is the only way you will stay above the competition! Allow yourself the time you need to become the sharpest you can at your trade.

This examination process put into practice is called “Edit and Focus”. Trim the fat, then do what only you can do is how I like to think of it. We’ve brushed up on this idea several times before, but this lifestyle is the number one revelation I want you to leave with for today. If you are destined to become who and what you surround yourself with, what are you threatening to become? What are you guarding and what are you focusing on? Are you allowing nonsense to creep in and steal your precious attention?

Every one of us falls short in an area at one point in every day. Yes, I said day. That is one of the beautiful flaws of humanity. None of us comes ready for “The Big Show”, but rather those who see success have chosen to give themselves over to the discipline that brings about refinement.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” - Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

Take the time to come back to this place and examine your current status often dear maker. Where you fall short, begin again. Whenever I see shortcomings rising in my life, I acknowledge two things: gratefulness for everything I have been blessed to experience and the undeniable desire to accomplish so much more. That is your roadmap. The beginning and then the end. Everything in between is found in your willingness to edit, focus, trim and begin again.

“There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.” - Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote.

This is a big deal dear maker -- you on this journey to find your dream. I know it, you know it. Just when you start to feel like it might be too much, remember that your purpose isn’t to pursue benign success, but rather live in the conviction that YOU are working towards a greater good. One that fills a need and encourages others just like you.

Until next time.




Buy the book

Never miss a post! Subscribe below!


Long-Term Planning


A comprehensive strategy builds an indisputable foundation for your future success.

At times thinking too far ahead into our future can feel like a waste of time. After all, we’ve seen that our lives have taken so many unexpected turns over the years (for the good and bad), thinking we could ever stick to a hardcore plan for our future seems impossible.

“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”   - Charles Reade

Long-term planning isn’t actually about controlling your future, but rather being prepared for the days ahead. Much like planting and harvesting, the preparation you sow now provides for your future. The end result is never about controlling the outcome, but rather taking pride and satisfaction in every seed you planted and the care you provided for it to grow into a thing of wonder.

Long term planning is all about the long-term goals of your dream.

In general, a long-term plan will look ahead 1-20 years to spell out your deepest desires. When you attend a school you are fleshing out a deep desire to have an education. When you save money you are fleshing out a deep desire to make a large purchase or attain financial security. When you plant your garden, you are seeking to nourish your unwavering appetite. When you spell out a goal and then lay out a plan to get you there, you have a tangible accountability tool to give your future hope and purpose.

“The main concern of a person is not to find pleasure or avoid pain but to find meaning and purpose in life.”  - Oswald Chambers

Always begin with  your current status to find out how to end with your projected status.

In Navigating Change, Gary Gore shares a valuable lesson with his readers: “In navigating through the forest, it is fundamental to know our location before we set out in any direction. If we do not know our location, we should stay in the same general area until we know where we are. To venture out only leads to confusion, and it makes any action plan we may have developed worthless or needlessly risky, compounding the problem. Our location is who and where we are.” The premise of your long-term plan is to flesh out the path that takes your dream from the starting point to the finish line. In your business, this is your tactical and operational plan interlaced with interim goals to create a landing block.

When you start with a vision for your future, you can begin to nail down the tangible achievements your dreams are meant to be made of. First, spell out your goals and objectives within your big dream. Next, assess what roadblocks are already in place and which ones you project to come. Most entrepreneurs find that education or training is often their number one roadblock, right before funding. What are your solutions or alternatives to these hurdles? There will always be one or the other dear maker. If you can’t overcome it, can you jump over it? By assessing your market, assets, opportunities and competition you can devise a plan of action through or around these.

Once your plan is in place, it’s ready to be met with action. As you continue to flesh out your plan, an operation will develop. As you monitor your progress and extinguish weak links, your policies will develop. Unsinkable businesses implement defense strategies they have devised in the face of the sneaky, but expected roadblocks and written them into company policies.

Entrepreneur.com leaves readers with a valuable end to devising and implementing a long-term business plan: Prioritize, delegate and execute. I quite agree. Without first knowing the end to the plan, you can’t begin. What looks good on paper may be all too unrealistic once real-life takes hold. That is where the beauty of these last few steps really begins to shine. Life is lived by first and foremost prioritizing the tasks laid out in front of you. Take on what only you can do first. After that, assess where you need to bring on help. No journey was ever meant to be conquered alone. Even Olympic gold medalists attribute much of their success to their coaches.

In A Maker’s Guide, I gave an example of what my long-term planning looks like. I prefer to break my goals down into 4 segments: Short -term (3 weeks to 3 months), Medium-term (3 months to 1 year), Long-term (1-5years), and Life-long (No limitations). The common thread throughout all of my planning is that it begins with a goal, it is held together by my plan to overcome costs and roadblocks and ends with a very specific completion date. These threads keep my feet moving towards the finish line no matter the terrain.

Advice for the road: 
Keep your steps orderly, succinct and real. Make your dreams meet the road.

What you do every day makes all the difference for the big picture. Chipping away and being consistent with your mission ensures your long-term success. When dreamers begin to do, they become world changers. The seeds you are sowing today will bear great fruit and therefore purpose in your future. You can do this!


Until next time.




Buy the book

Never miss a post! Subscribe below!