L et’s talk about the C-Word. Competition, that is! Think for a moment about your relationship with your competition. Is it one rooted in fear? If so, I challenge you to rethink your approach. With very few exceptions, most small businesses can benefit from amiable relations with other companies who are fighting for the same piece of the pie.
most small businesses can benefit from amiable relations with other companies who are fighting for the same piece of the pie.
Allow me to explain. Depending on the industry, you may find that working with someone you perceive as a credible threat might actually help you. He or she (or they, in the case of larger entities) can serve as a reality check—challenging perceptions or ways of doing things that no longer serve you. It’s easy to get stuck in our own silos and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to give us an extra incentive to innovate and grow.
That said, I think all small business owners should check in regularly with themselves (or team members) and ask questions like:
What is something a competitor does better than you?
How might you learn from their strengths or advantages?
What is something you do better than they do?
And finally, this calls for some soul-searching. Who has the bigger market share? You or them? What can you do to either maintain your position or grow?
Once you’re honest with yourself, you can set goals in the form of solid deliverables that specifically correspond to your business.
What about if your competitor seeks you out for advice? How flattering! Welcome it with open arms! You never know when you’ll need them to return the favor. Helping someone else develop can position you as a leader in your industry (and an all-around good person) and may allow them to succeed. And our business community is stronger when everyone succeeds. Going back to the pie metaphor, there are enough slices for everyone!
So, I challenge you this week to invite your competition to coffee. Show up with no agenda other than to learn and grow. I assure you you’ll leave more enlightened than you did before.
Article written by Lauren Caggiano, Farnsworth Founder and President of WriteOn!