Our typical way of looking at competition is a game that we need to win. It’s like a race where there can only be one winner and everyone else an enemy. Some of us even go as far as sabotaging our competitors. We don’t tell certain people about a job opportunity because we do not want more competition. You don’t really want to tell that company that wins all the contracts about an upcoming Request-for-Proposal (RFP). Both examples indicate insecurity at some level, which is not positive state of being. By creating a relationship with your competitors, you can better manage the challenges faced by your industry and also learn from them.
How Can You Co-exist with Your Competitors?
Co-existing with your competitors means that you are aware of each other, you run your operations as you see fit, but you are willing to collaborate and share some information and even resources when a win-win situation presents itself.
- Determine who are your indirect and direct competitors.
A direct competitor is a company that offers the same service or product to the same customer base. An indirect competitor offers the same or similar product or service as part of larger portfolio of offerings.
- Consider which competitors would be open to future collaboration.
Do they have the same values as your company? Who do they normally collaborate with? What do their employees say about them? Be careful about who you collaborate with, as this should be a win-win situation. You will more likely collaborate with indirect competitors because you can add value to both your customer bases through shared resources.
- Protect your intellectual property and be careful of what information you share.
With your intellectual property protected, you will be more willing to collaborate and share with others. Furthermore, you will be less insecure in your interactions.
- Trust your instincts and only collaborate with those who have proven to be trustworthy.
At the end of the day, even if a company looks good on paper and they are the market leader, you do not have to collaborate.
There is a benefit of giving back even to your competitors, just as long as it does not hurt your bottom line. By having a relationship with your competitors, you will be more visible in your industry. While being visible also makes you a target, it also forces you to differentiate and be an industry leader. It feels good when you are looking forward by innovating, instead of constantly looking back because of insecurity. You’ll attract great employees and if you are humble, your competitors will actually warn you of future challenges.
What’s your opinion?