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Competition Schm-ompetition: why competitors are friends not foes

I would like to share with you a little discovery I have made since starting my own business. I am specifically referring to small businesses and freelancers in the services industry when I say that competitors can be friends not foes, and it’s better to work with them than against them.

When I first launched Lemon Squeezy Marketing I attended quite a few networking events to get the name known locally. Needless to say, not all of those networking events reserved one place per industry and on more than one occasion I ended up face to face with others offering the same services as me.

Or so I thought…

Of course there were one or two who snubbed me and either pretended I wasn’t there or sulked about the fact I was there. But then there were others who made a bee line for me to chat about what I do vs what they do and find the common ground and differences between us. These conversations were probably more valuable than any others I could have had and I even made some great friends as a result.

For instance, last year I attended an event and there were two PR people on the list – another lady and myself *gulp*. I approached her to ask about what she does and we got chatting about all things PR. It turns out she has lots of experience in traditional PR and is very passionate about it, but doesn’t feel enthused about online PR and social media.

Oh, hello…

We got on very well and developed a mutual respect, so now we sometimes work together to provide an integrated service using our combined skills. I send referrals her way and vice versa. This isn’t an isolated example either as I now work with a handful of people providing similar, if not the same, services as me. It means that I have an experienced and valuable network of experts to call upon if I need to, and I am happy to help them out in return.

It turns out that no-one can truly offer the same service. Even if we use the same skills, methods and tools we each have a unique approach to what we do, and therefore attract and retain different clients as a result. In the services industry clients buy into the people who are working for them as much as (if not more than) the services they choose, and your unique personality and approach is not something that anyone can copy.

The thing is…

You are either what a client is looking for or you aren’t, and there is no way to appeal to all. Personally I think you should do your best, be yourself and accept that while some think you’re the cat’s pyjamas you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

I don’t mind rubbing shoulders with the competition at all, because you know what? I’m comfortable with my individuality.

Bethany Carter,  July 9, 2014

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