Does it ever pay to work with your competitors? In what circumstances should I consider doing so?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
A. Work With Them Whenever You Can
I'm a big believer that the market is a big place and that there's plenty of room for multiple successful companies in any competitive space. Helping the competition and hopefully leveraging some of their insights will improve your products and in turn, grow your entire industry. Remember: A rising tide lifts all boats.
- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
A. All Networking Is Valuable
I've built relationships with most of our competitors. I'd like to build relationships with all of them. I believe its important to know smart people in your industry, and to learn from them.
- Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp
A. Reap Benefits From Competitors
There are so many benefits of networking and getting to know your competitors, which can often create strategic partners. Chances are you're not offering exactly the same thing, and people are often willing to purchase from many different vendors in the first place. This helps you both grow your customer base. Only do it after you've connected and feel a good vibe!
- Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media Inc.
A. Work With Competitors for Good Karma
If your competitors are good, honest people who are trying to put out a great product or service, I absolutely think it's a good idea to work with them. It's always useful to have good relationships with your competitors. We even help ours out when we can, especially if they are working in a practice area that we do not offer. It's good karma, helps our clients and demonstrates our integrity.
- David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
A. Recognize Their Value
If you are losing business to a competitor with some regularity, chances are they are offering a feature that your customers are valuing. It's obviously better to receive half the revenue of a deal in a partnership than remaining independent and getting nothing. If the competitor recognizes that they lose some business to you as well, then you may have the start of a solid potential partnership.
- Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC
A. Weigh the Pros and Cons
For the most part, it only pays when three things exist. The benefit to your business must outweigh the cost of doing business with the competitor. The relationship involves an indirect competitor who can bring value to your business that you do not currently offer. The competitor does not have direct access to information, customers or IP critical to the success of your business.
- Janis Krums, Opprtunity
A. Identify Different Slices of the Pie
As a CEO branding firm, we find competitors in a number of areas. We focus on PR, speaking engagements, social media, book deals, Web and graphic design and SEO. However, we have PR partners, and we get their clients book deals and speaking bureaus that we list our clients with, too. As long as your competitor isn't your exact clone, there are opportunities to collaborate.
- Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group
A. Be Open to Working With Others
We are open to working with people we trust to achieve mutual goals. In the oil and gas world, a competitor can become a partner very quickly, given certain opportunities, goals and assets. I welcome these relationships, and our companies operate with integrity and strive to be good partners to everyone we work with.
- Joseph P. DeWoody, Clear Fork Royalty
A. Work For Mutual Benefits
In consulting, working with competitors is quite common. It gives smaller firms the ability to scale quickly to compete with larger firms for work. It helps to build mutually beneficial professional relationships that can benefit all parties down the road. In many cases, competitors offer similar but slightly nuanced services that can add value to customers when integrated.
- Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture
A. Create an Industry With Competitors
One great way to collaborate with competitors is by creating or growing an industry organization that promotes the mutual interests of all players in the space. For companies that are pioneering new innovations, it can be particularly helpful to create an organization because it's an effective way to educate your buyers collectively and collaborate on growing the total market opportunity.
- Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.