Thought of the day: Competition means partnership (AKA: The world is flat, and competition looks different)
Are you in charge of keeping your business afloat? Relevant? competitive? Sustainable? Yes? Then, my friend, you have much to worry about.
You have much to worry about unless words such as diversification, collaborations, change-management, resource-sharing and partnership are central to your business philosophy. Beyond incorporating these key words in meaningful ways, perhaps the most important part of this newly-needed philosophy is redefining your concept of competition.
Today’s competitive edge is far from the 80s version–kill or be killed and destroy your adversaries; wipe out the competition so that
you’re the only one left standing.
Why doesn’t this philosophy work any longer? Because the world is flat. The world is flat due to advanced communications and globalization. The world is flat because customers and clients can reach all corners of the globe to get the goods and services they want and need. The customers and clients–your target population–in your community no longer need you. You need them. Redefining your concept of competition is a powerful method of cultivating them.
At the end of the day, it’s all about value. Some things have never and will never change about business, and central to these constants in a free market is value. Customers and clients will seek it out and build their loyalty around it. So, the question is, are you as valuable as you can be?
A key way to raising the value of your business is through partnerships and resource-sharing. This doesn’t necessarily mean bringing partners into your business to run things and work with you and your team to make things happen. What it does mean is looking around for your competitors, getting to know them and the services they provide, looking for the unique–looking for value. Then, see how you can leverage your difference to share referrals and team up on projects, utilizing one anothers’ expertise. Very few pros are equally good at everything, so look for ways to share resources in niche markets. This will increase your value in the eyes of your public and demonstrate that you and your partner(s) are innovators in your field working together to provide the absolute best for your customers and clients.
Look at your competition differently–they are your greatest potential allies, and working together, you can each raise the value of offerings to your customers and clients. By viewing competition as partners, everyone wins.
This is all about game theory for business. Wiping out your competitors could concel you out, too. Better to collaborate than lose everything.
Here is an example–a florist delivery cooperative shares resources on delivery services so that flower deliveries going to the same zip code end up on one truck from a variety of florists’ orders: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/small-business/2007/08/the_sweet_smell_of_rising_gas.html