I recently tried to connect two members of my community in hopes they could collaborate. One informed me the other was a competitor and did not wish to connect.
My initial reaction was embarrassment. I was trying to be helpful, but I hadn’t considered that they would be competitors. While they served the same industry, their services were different.
In retrospect, I should not have felt ashamed. I think perception has a lot to do with how we view competition.
I, personally, do not think about competition. No two businesses are exactly the same, just like no two people are exactly the same.
I also believe we do business with those we know, like and trust. It’s the primary reason I encourage my clients to humanize their business.
I asked some leaders in my community offer their thoughts on competition. Here are the responses I have received.
Jenifer Epstein, New York Life
The most successful business professionals understand that there is enough business for everyone. They believe in abundance and in their ability to sell to their ideal clients effectively.
The only competition should be with yourself; challenging yourself to acquire the skills, systems and knowledge necessary to dominate your field.
The focus should be on staying relevant, rather than coming from a place of "lack" or "there is never enough."
John Webster, The John Webster Company
The world would be so much better if people realized there is plenty of business for everyone if they would simply open their eyes.
I find the most territorial people are those who are not confident in what value they provide.
That is not saying competition is bad. Fear or lack of confidence is an improper motivator for focusing too much on competition.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Cnesta Group
Competition whether direct or not often leads to excellence and those who demonstrate courage of conviction deliver that excellence when it counts the most.
I don’t believe in a participation prize (ex: everyone on the team gets a trophy). If we all thought like that, companies like Apple and Google wouldn't exist. But, that doesn’t mean we need to be cut throat. A competitive nature is healthy if you’re honest and if you have integrity. Those who compete in an unhealthy way create the negativity that can sometimes plague the word, competition. Integrity in competition can only be controlled by you. The rest is out of your hands.
Rubina Azizdin, Central Penn College
All business professionals bring something unique to the table. We always reach out to one another for advice or opinions. We have an advisory board with local professionals, in the same field, who offer their opinions and testimonies to past experiences. Working together and inclusion develop mentorship and support, which helps eliminate perceived competition.
A recent article in Harvard Business Review found that building a culture focused on performance may not be the best way to achieve results. It was suggested that it could be more effective to focus on creating a culture of growth. In this manner, everyone is working to constantly improve.
I think that’s a great model for how we overcome the real or perceived notion of competition.
What do you think?