Oct 08

Competition vs Collaboration in Small Business

When you come across someone else who appears to be offering a very similar service to yours, or who is targeting the same niche as you, what is your reaction?

Competition vs collaboration:

  • Do you see them as potential competition, feel fear and panic and focus on the negative?

  • Or do you see the potential for collaboration, the opportunity for mutual benefit, and a chance to learn?

And what is the impact of this perception on your small business performance?

Not long ago, I was definitely in the former category. When I came across someone else who appeared to be offering business planning solutions to women in business I would feel the panic rising in my chest and would have thoughts like “may as well give up, someone else has taken our place”. “There isn't room for two in that niche”. “Look how much better they are doing X and Y”….

Now this mindset was not very useful. It was limiting, based on fear and self-doubt, and was never going to lead to opportunities in our business.


Turning competition into collaboration

Once I recognised the negative impact of viewing others in my niche as competition I set to shifting my collaboration, business performancemindset and turning my thinking around. After all I'm not in business to be plagued by fear or to let negativity hold me back.

So I've chosen to see potential competition as potential collaboration….. and to examine what the possibilities could be for both of us if we worked together, rather than against each other.

Even the shift in mindset has felt like a huge relief and I feel like I have so much more scope for creative thinking and opportunity (as opposed to feeling limited!)

In addition, I feel the benefits for our business of this change in perception are significant!


The benefits of collaboration on business performance

I now firmly believe there is so much potential impact on business performance if you can work alongside others in your niche as potential collaborators rather than competition and wanted to share some of the benefits as I see them:

  • the ability for both parties to share their learnings and insights about your niche so you really understand your client at a deep level

  • potential affiliate opportunities if your products and services are not exactly the same – two lists are better than one – and particularly if there is a huge alignment!

  • Working together can lead to generating solutions and ideas you would never had thought of alone

  • the opportunity to pool skills and create new products or services that combine the strengths of those involved, bring extra value to clients and more opportunity to us

  • on an individual level it's very freeing – the world is a wide open space when you aren't afraid of other people coming onto your patch!

So how do you view others in your niche?

And do you see other benefits in addition to those I've listed above when you can choose to see the opportunity for collaboration instead of the scary prospect of competition!

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  • great post Jo, I absolutely agree and we can already see the benefits of this change in mindset in our biz huh?

  • Kris

    YES. there is another health focused programme here in Wellington that offer natural weight loss too, but they look at how you eat, i tailor what you eat. So we work collaboratively. I’ve even had Catrina speak at one of my weight loss events. 🙂

    • Thats awesome to hear Kris… So much more rewarding to work together!

  • I always see my fellow editors as collaborators and colleagues. Ditto the journalists I know. I rather see them as people who can help me out if I need it rather than the enemy I guess. 🙂 Great post!

  • This is so true. Competition is so limiting … and exhausting! Collaboration brings new ideas, resources & opportunities into the mix. Open Source software is a great example of how collaboration can achieve great things – look at how quickly many Open Source platforms are able to respond to fixing bugs & developing new features as opposed to comparable proprietary products!

    At “Creative Magic Academy” there is a fabulous post about competition … http://www.abccreativity.com/2010/10/21/competition/ … here’s an excerpt:

    “looking at others as competition and comparing and being competitive takes energy away from your ability to create magic in your life. it also makes you small.

    the powerful and smart choice is to keep your focus on your own work.

    polish your diamond. make your brilliant plans and get your work out into the world.”

    • I love your references to energy Meg. Why not give ourselves as much opportunity as possible to create positive energy and grow. Thanks for sharing this quote

  • The online world lends itself to nicely to collaboration too. I think that is what is driving the move to collaboration over competition, which I think is evident when I talk to local business owners who are still attempting to ‘protect their territory’.

    And aside from collaborating people buy people so – much as we hate to admit it – not everyone will identify with us and our business and it’s good to be able to recommend alternative trusted suppliers from our network in those cases.

    Great post Jo, and very impressed with the blog challenge!

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