Can your Competitors be Collaborators?

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For most entrepreneurs and managers, a source of major tension, fear and anxiety is your competition.

Every time you stumble across a social media post or reference to a rival company you go into a flurry of panic and analysis.

  • “Crap, that looks good…why aren’t we doing that?”
  • “How did they get that connection there?”
  • “That will never work for them like that, will it?”

There is a whole cocktail of concern, anger, and arrogance — sometimes blended with a little jealousy. It is only natural, our work and businesses mean a lot to us and this is perceived as a direct threat!

Most leaders work hard to outwardly project no fear over the competition, stating that they will just stick to their principles. You read motivational quotes about only focusing on yourselves, ‘because that is all that matters’….but we are human and we all feel threatened when people ‘step on our turf’.

Overall it is unhealthy to stress over the competition — we should not change our game plan entirely based off what competitors do, it shouldn’t affect your mood or decision making.

Can you look at this differently?

Many would be abhorred at the idea of collaborating with a rival/competitor. I certainly was as well, in fear of giving away our secrets or looking weak.

Try looking from another angle, and see the upside.

Naturally, you won’t share everything and may still compete for the same customers, but what if collectively you can improve the entire market to ensure it is healthy, growing and sustainable?

  • Can you work together to improve the industry? 
    In most areas of work, there are obstacles, preconceptions as well as people that follow the rules and people that don’t. Often, we all get tarnished with the same brush when someone does something bad…it hurts us all. Can you make it better?
    Example: In our case, a collection of seven companies came together to form an alliance with a common code of ethics, aimed at making the industry fairer and to stop bad practices that damage the entire reputation of the sector. It separates us from the cowboys in the industry.
  • You are stronger together to encourage change
    You are stronger together. I am sure in most industries there is a governing body or set of rules that should be followed. Usually, this type of bureaucracy can get in the way of progress and actually serving the customer. Lobbying for change is much easier when you are a collection of quality organizations — you are more powerful together. 
    Example: In our case, we have made more progress in six months collectively than any of us have done in the previous decade. We are taken seriously and admired for our collaboration.
  • Sharing Knowledge/Support
    This was the area I was most anxious about. How much should I share?
    But this has actually been my favorite part of this entire adventure. These people are not my enemies, they are just like me…they face the same daily challenges, goals, and fears. We can help each other with practical things and importantly have a platform for discussion on topics that other people cannot fully understand. 
    Example: I am delighted at the relationships we have developed with our collaborating competitors — I have learned much and enjoy discussing ways we can improve.

We are stronger together

There are still some competitors I would not work with, as I don’t feel we share the same values, but we have developed a stronger company ourselves, a fairer industry and a friendly supportive network.

Do you know of other companies sharing your values and mission? Take a meeting with them and discuss the bigger picture!

Stewart Stanbra is a founder of CSUSA and the Pursue Group, he is helping driven people Pursue Ambition. Please follow for more stories on Entrepreneurship, Startups, Leadership and Self Care. Any claps are hugely appreciated!

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