Why you should share your ideas with your competitors

That headline might raise a few eyebrows but bear with me.

It’s likely that finding out what your competitors are doing in their business and using what you do find out wisely to gain “competitive advantage” has been recommended since the very first trader set up. It seems like common sense but implies that there is only one way to succeed ie to beat the competition.

And in some businesses that might be the case.
But how might it be if you actively sought an opportunity to work with a competitor in collaboration?

For example –over the past year or so coaches in Edinburgh and the Lothians has been coming together in a Linkedin group to chat about current issues, sharing knowledge and opinions, creating events and generally getting to know each other. On the face of it they are all competing for the same business but in practice of course their range of skills and knowledge, backgrounds, expertise, specialisms and special interests is vast.

Potential clients are usually initially attracted to one (or a couple) of those but over time they might want to add something else. So, the coach has the option of either leaving their valued client to their own devices to find that “something else” or referring the other part of the business to someone that they trust and/or collaborating in a joint offering.

Some coaches in the group came together to jointly contribute to tender bid where they could not have done so on their own. Others have been co- creating a new service in respond to current client demand with a new combined reach of all of their businesses.

Each of these options need trust – and a good understanding of who does what well – as the impact on personal and business brands is something that needs careful consideration . This means getting to know people who you might previously have considered to be a threat.

Social media can really help you recognise who you would like to work with and even find out about new and interesting skills that would enhance what you have to offer. You may find that by spending time “listening in” to the discussions on forums hosted by the professional body you are a member of or special interest groups will give you an insight into what more is possible.

But lurking – the social media term for being around but not adding a comment – will only take you so far. The “social” part of social media means conversation! To really benefit you need to join in and share your own views, comments and indeed ideas so that businesses looking to work with someone just like you can get to know you better.

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You can read more from Jackie on her website – http://www.consultcameron.com

2 Comments on Why you should share your ideas with your competitors

  1. Great advice as usual Jackie. Even “losing” business can have a value to you in your own business as it means that the market is active, clients are spending, you have the opportunity to review exactly why you “lost” and improve your own skills and offering. Collabrating and co-operation does all this and more without the pain of losing that special, lucrative customer order as an individual business.

  2. This is like an age old concept which works really well. If you think about hotels in close proximity to each other…Yes they are in competition as such yet every single one of them will have something unique to offer to their clients. When the hotels get together and support each other they create a “community in the local area” that grows in strength and eventually becomes a “very desirable location” for guests seeking top accomodation. And each can refer clients to the other if they cannot for some reason accomodate the particular clients requests.

    Everyone is in the same boat but wearing different coloured jackets that’s all. And to ensure the boat remains afloat everyone pulls together.

    I’m sure this totally relateable to any business

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