When I owned my coffeehouse (2001-2004) people frequently asked me if I hated Starbucks. I didn’t. After all, Starbucks is responsible for re-introducing the culture of coffee in the United States and for establishing it in countries where the cafe culture never before existed. Starbucks put the romance into the coffee experience. Without those romantic notions consumers wouldn’t have given a second look at my drive-thru, or stop by for a fireside chat over a delicious cuppa joe with their friends. Thank you Starbucks!

Still, the truth is that the coffee giant made it impossible for an independent coffee retailer like me to compete, so I didn’t. Instead my business became what Starbucks is not. It too became a household name but for reasons far from its convenience and fast service.

Stop viewing your competition as the enemy and instead use it as the catalyst to brilliance. Instead of investing your precious energy into hating or envying your competitors use it to become the very best entrepreneur you can possibly be. Here’s how.

Give your customers another reason to choose your brand.

I knew that my delicious, fair trade coffee wasn’t enough to bring customers through the door so I gave more dimension to the consumer experience. I added open mic nights, brought in great bands, and did art shows and book signings. I even opened a private conference room to local businesses and organizations.

What can you offer in addition to your products or services? When you stand out from the competition by offering something of value that your competitors don’t, you give your customers a better reason to choose your product or service. How can you help your customers go beyond a simple purchase and truly experience your brand?

Learn Inc.com’s remaining four reasons to make nice with the competition.