We operate in a free and competitive market, which is great for many reasons. The nature of competition is that it encourages players in the market to constantly lift their game, while improving the value they offer to their customers. If competition didn’t exist, we’d settle for mediocre, and the need for innovation would evaporate. This means competition is great for customers, but it’s great for business too, because it challenges us and it hones us to be the best we can be.
Being competitive implies striving for superiority, one being better than the other, offering better value. Traditionally, competitive players in the market see their peers as rivals, to be treated with a degree of caution, to be watched closely to one-up each other.
In some professions, however, we can observe cooperation with competitors. The concept of coopetition combines cooperation and competition, recognising that competitors can often benefit from cooperating with each other.
At a local level, I’ve sought to keep open lines of communication and a mutual understanding with my “industry peers”. We have found many ways we’ve been able to cooperate for everyone’s benefit – not only for ourselves, but for our clients. Here are some examples:
– When possible, we organise to catch up socially a few times a year, to get to know each other better in a relaxed and informal setting. For me this has been awesome, as our industry doesn’t have a formal CPD pathway, so the exchange of ideas and insights is great for our professional development.
– I’ve had prospective clients contact me with a particular brief, which I wasn’t best placed to assist with, but was able to connect the cleint with the right local web business to assist them. This is far better than me “stretching” to serve the prospective client, it allows me to focus on what I do best, provide my competitor with additional work, and brings me great satisfaction when I see that client ecstatic about the outcome. A win for all!
– A couple of years ago, a few local web businesses collaborated to deliver an industry day for school teachers from across regional NSW, hosted at CSU in Port Macquarie, giving them insights they could take back to their students.
– Also a couple of years ago, Robey Lawrence was successful in getting a WordCamp event going in Port Macquarie, a website developer conference which was attended by many web developers, and website owners, from across Australia, who took part in specialist workshops presented by experts in their field. This event was sponsored, organised and run by a number of local web businesses.
For me, it’s great to be part of a community where we can look out for each other, while maintaining a healthy rivalry. I will continue to do my part in fostering this openness, but I realise it’s not for everyone. I believe businesses in other industries could benefit from doing the same, and if you’d like to have a chat about how you could lead the way, get in touch.