We can play the game our own way – and win it.

Business ideas crop up in unusual places. Here’s one I had on Mount Errigal.

I’d coached creative businesses in Ireland during the week. On Sunday I had some free time. So I drove through the beautiful countryside, to climb the highest peak in County Donegal.

The day was sunny and warm. The cooling breeze became stronger as I climbed higher up the mountain path.

At the summit I put on my jacket, drank some water, and took some photos. Mainly though, I just took it all in. The view of the Atlantic Ocean. The fresh air. The physical feeling of having reached the top.

I’d made an early start, so there hadn’t been many people on the mountain. But by the time I started to descend, more climbers were making the slow ascent.

I decided to take a different route down and headed towards Mackoght Mountain. This was the ‘path less trodden’. In fact there was hardly any path at all. Almost immediately, I was alone.

After a while I looked back towards Errigal. I could see tiny coloured dots on its ridge. Some were moving upwards, others heading down.

I wondered why nobody else had taken my alternative route.

Most people follow conventional paths. Not only on the mountains, but in life. And in business too. We have a herd instinct. A feeling of safety in numbers. A belief that it’s less risky if you do what everyone else does.

This results in lots of similar businesses. The market becomes crowded. There’s over-supply. Prices fall.

On the crowded Errigal path, we were all competing for space. Now I had a whole mountain to myself.

Sure, their mountain was bigger than mine. But there were more of them competing for a share of it. Mine was smaller. But I had it all to myself.

That day in the mountains I reflected on how this applies to business.

In fact that’s what I’d done when I decided to focus only on creative businesses. A smaller market, yes, but with little or no competition

We can beat the competition. Not by fighting. But by finding a new market. And having the lion’s share of it.

As creative entrepreneurs, we don’t have to compete conventionally. We can win by having NO COMPETITORS.

It’s called ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ in the business books.

Why compete in a bloody red ocean where sharks eat sharks? Why not swim to the blue ocean? To find new feeding grounds with little or no competition.

In business we have choices.

We can choose to think differently about competition. We can leave the well trodden path and be pioneers. We can play the game our own way. And win it.