This week I was introduced to Porter’s Five Forces, which entails how suppliers, substitute products, new entrants, and buyers, impact industry competition. As an emerging sport psychology consultant these forces will determine (1) if performers receive the help they deserve (2) my livelihood. Let’s focus on the first. Basically, by structuring my competitive strategy well, clients have the opportunity to learn why sport psychology can improve their lives, why I am the best choice for helping them achieve objectives, and in essence, ensure they get the best care possible.

In the sport psychology industry we are competing on service. Suppliers have the least impact on industry competition; whereas the other three forces are will play a significant role in growth of the field and my success. In considering substitute products and new entrants, differentiating is key. My objectives will focus on demonstrating that my skills are indeed different from coaches, counselors, nutritionists, and trainers, and that my training and life experience (e.g., M.A. in sport & performance psychology, athlete, musician, entrepreneur, corporate employee) brings something unique to the table as a means of distinguishing from other consultants. Porter discusses the importance of positive sum competition, which draws on a view that people in the industry (i.e., healthcare, psychology, sport, performance enhancement, etc.) are competing on different things to meet different needs. Additionally, having an abundance mentality, approaches competition from the standpoint that there is plenty to go around, and will allow me to have patience and a strategy that seeks to find the right clients.

To attract clients and have the opportunity to use my skills, I need to educate clients on the distinction between consultants as well as what sport psychology is and why it will bring value to their lives. In developing a strategy this will require understanding what clients need and want, how much I am worth, and how much will clients “buy.” Continuing to coach, interact with peers, and asking performers these questions will help to determine the industry pulse. A willingness to learn from the client and adapt to changes in the industry will facilitate incorporating my strategy in day-to-day life and being flexible to the competitive dynamics in performance enhancement.

Check out the following link for more information on Porter’s Five Forces and a Harvard Business Review Ideacast in which Michael E. Porter takes in depth about his framework for business strategy: http://hbr.org/2008/01/the-five-competitive-forces-that-shape-strategy/ar/1

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