As the old saying goes “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” But the question is, who are your enemies. In business, whether you’re an employee or a business owner, it’s easy to confuse competitors for enemies. They’re not. In fact, we contend that you should not only respect, but love your competitors. They might teach you something or make you better.
A few examples to illustrate our point:
- Career Girl Network is one of hundreds of websites that target women. From mommy sites to health and fitness to job search specific and sites for every generation, you might think these sites are all our competitors. They’re not. We at CGN consider them our peers. Because if we truly believe in changing the world for women in business, we can’t live in the belief that we can do it alone.
- Another great example comes in the pioneers of online sample sales, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank from Gilt Group. A&A write in their book “By Invitation Only” how they worked hard to beat some of their competitors to market. And while they remain the queens of the online sample sale, I’m sure they’d agree that the rise of other sites like RueLaLa and HauteLook are good for them as well. As daily sample sales become more mainstream, so too do their revenues grow. Competition? Yes. Enemy? No way.
- Outside the world of business ownership, individuals everywhere are dealing with competition in the workplace. Maybe she sits in the office next to you. Maybe you are vying for the same promotion. No matter the circumstances, you probably glare at her more than you openly share with her. But imagine for a moment what would happen if you and you next door competitor banded together rather than cattily separated. Wouldn’t your ideas be stronger, wouldn’t your leadership be tighter, wouldn’t your department be better overall? Could you split the credit for bigger successes and be better than you would be alone? Perhaps.
No matter your competition, remember this, keep them close with respect and admiration. And hey, if they turn into enemies, then you’re already a step ahead.