Marketing / Business networking

Cooperation versus competition

Us soloists are busy and time poor. Unless you are outsourcing there will come a time whereby you have capped your capacity to serve your clients. When you reach that point, what are your options? This article looks at cooperation versus competition.

20 May 2008 by

As a management accountant, and solo flyer, I am fortunate to keep in close contact with my ‘competitors’ both locally and nationally. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to offer and maintain the service I do.

When weighing up cooperation versus competition, I treat my competitors as my peers. They are a technical resource, provide support during busy times and back-up for when I go on holiday.

My role typically involves a lot of problem solving. Using my competition as a sounding board for clients issues or case studies can save a massive amount of time.

Having a good relationship with them means I’m never out of touch. For example, I just received a manual in the mail from a competitor who went to a conference and picked up some extra manuals and thought I would like some. Yes thanks …they came in very useful.

I try to offer similar assistance when they need it. The call I took at 7:30am this morning was from another competitor who needed help installing a new upgrade at a clients site.

"I just received a manual in the mail from a competitor who went to a conference and picked up some extra manuals and thought I would like some."

I just sent a text to Competitor X: do you know your email is bouncing? And I forwarded an e-newsletter to Competitor Y that I thought would be of interest to her.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business networking section.

I will also send business their way when appropriate. For example, I may suggest a client deals with my competitor who has more experience in certain areas, or perhaps comes from an industry I would rather not deal with.

I keep abreast of competition in my area, and drop an email to anyone new.

Naturally, there are some competitors that I do not share with. If I feel uncomfortable with their modus operandi, or the relationship is weighted in one direction, I will keep my distance.

However if I visit a client’s site and learn they have previously dealt with my competition, someone whose work I have confidence in, and the client starts rattling off a list of complaints about that consultant, alarm bells ring. Experience has taught me that a client who complains may have unrealistic expectations, may not be receptive to receive and act on specialist advice, or may simply be a whinger.

In July 06 the CEO of Pepsi called the CEO of Coke to inform him that someone was trying to sell them the secret Coke formula. These fierce global rivals have a healthy respect for one another.

Good reliable competition is an invaluable resource. What are your thoughts on cooperation versus competition? Do you see competition as friend or foe?

Heather Smith

is a Chartered Certified Accountant & Xero Accounting Advisor specialising in moving businesses to the cloud, improving productivity and profits. She’s written six books including Xero for Dummies & Learn Small Business Start-Up in 7 Days.

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