I have had a reasonable amount of experience working for companies that are monopolies. This basically means that they don't have any competitors. To most of us, that sounds like heaven. You can charge what you like, customer service does not really matter because the customers have nowhere else to go, and as long as there is a demand for the product or service, you can't possibly go wrong. Guess again.

In many ways, monopolies face the toughest competition there is--the mythical competitor. One client of mine was a cab company. They provided a great service, the cars were excellent, the drivers were generally very good, and the waiting time for cabs averaged only three minutes. But the company was the target of numerous complaints and they could not understand why. On the surface their business was really well run, and so they were at a loss as to why they always seemed to get bad press in the local paper.

The main reason was that their customers had no other cab company to compare this business to, so they compared them to the perfect mythical cab company. This mythical cab company would never be late, the fares would always be less than expected, the cars would always be better and the drivers would all be models of perfection.

If your business has no competition, you have to provide better products and services than do businesses with lots of competitors. Monopolies are a whole new ball game and, given the choice, I would much rather be up against concrete competition that I know I can outperform than a mythical competitor that I have no chance of beating. Always be grateful for the competitors you have.