Many networking groups advocate membership of one business type only. I don’t follow that philosophy. I once heard the following: “Business is cooperation when it comes to creating a pie and competition when it comes to dividing it up.” I believe that as a business owner you have to compete and cooperate at the same time.
In any kind of business, your success doesn’t require others to fail – there can be multiple winners.
My lesson on this subject came at the age of 21. I was getting ready to open my first business and my father asked me to go to Los Angeles to spend two days with a business owner friend of his. I had no idea what I was supposed to learn or what kind of advice I would be receiving. I arrived in Los Angeles mid-morning, and my host met me at the airport. After a get acquainted lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon at his office where I met his staff and was introduced to his business operation.
The next morning we got up early and attended a 7 am breakfast with 6 other people. He explained that this same group had been meeting for over 8 years on a weekly basis. As I met each person, I was amazed to learn that all were business owners in the same industry as my host. For two hours this group discussed what was happening in their industry and what problems they encountered. Others chimed in with suggestions to solve problems and a lot of positive talk about the future of their industry.
We adjourned punctually at 9 am, and we drove back to his office. He explained that over the course of the past 8 years of the group’s existence, very few members ever missed a meeting. Yes, they were all competitors, but those meetings were what he based his marketing and future growth plans on. He shared that his business success was due in a large part to this group being honest, having become good friends and all having a sincere desire to better their profession.
It took me several years before the significance of the trip became clear. The lesson learned was to embrace my competition from a perspective of not only helping them when in need, but also working with them to better our overall industry.
This is a long way to reach a short answer: welcome your competition; help them when you can, share with them and learn from them. The long term result is a win-win for all and a better reputation both for yourself and your industry.
Tips & Advice by Nick Petra, CFP – Founder of Strategic Duck and BizQuack
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