From BizLaunch: Collaboration is the New Competition

From Erica Lemp, Editor, eBiz Today @Bizlaunch

You’ve heard the phrase, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. In the world of small business startup, the same holds true. Business success, economic success, they breed more success. It would stand to reason then, that the success of our fellow small business owners is actually in our best interest. It is beneficial for small businesses to seek out symbiotic and collaborative relationships with other small businesses whenever possible and see each other as partners instead of competition.
Shared resources, such as packaged web design, marketing, workspace or staff allow small businesses to thrive with fewer cash outlays. Of all the things small businesses typically have, an abundance of extra cash isn’t one of them. This is a huge reason why co-work spaces and small business accelerators are such a vital part of any thriving business community. They allow small businesses to come together, barter services, share best practices, network and refer. If your neighbor is winning, then so are you. These exist here in Brevard County as Groundswell, Co-Launch, Trep-Hub and others.

But what about businesses who fill the same market need? Isn’t competition bad? On the contrary, competition is vital – it’s also a good sign. Think about it this way, if your biggest competitor is doing really well, it speaks to a market need for what you have to offer. Their success does not have to mean your failure. In fact, their success might just signify YOUR success – just make sure you do your market research and don’t park yourself right next door. Get to know your competitors and don’t be afraid to refer people to them when you can’t do the job due to schedule or resources. They’ll return the favor one day.

In a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine, Carol Roth discusses the idea of entrepreneurial support systems where small businesses can share best practices, tools and space. “Whether it is co-marketing with competitors that serve a similar market, mastermind groups that can share experiences or just having other entrepreneurs that can give moral support, embracing the spirit of community and collaboration can be a differentiating factor for your success.” Anyone who has attended BizLaunch has heard me say that the best way to learn is by doing, but that sometimes it is equally valuable to learn from someone who has already done.