Should You Collaborate With Your Competition?

Apr 5, 2011

Entrepreneurship consultant Rick Spence discussed why competing businesses should work together in a recent Financial Post article.

“I believe business is about leveraging every advantage you have,” Spence wrote. “And your competitors, with their market knowledge, customer contacts, and ability to make you look good by supplying some product, information or resources that you may lack, may offer more opportunities for leverage than anyone else you know.”

Spence cited examples of large corporations that work with competitors.

“Big companies do it all the time,” he wrote. “Arch-competitors work together in industry associations, and they often share the same lawyers for lobbying lawmakers and regulators.”

“Hotels regularly send overflow guests to ‘friendly’ inns with whom they fight tooth and nail in shoulder season,” he continued. “I’ve known rival companies that happily share production equipment with competitors or refer work to them when their own order books are full.”

He also talked about a small business owner who refused to build a working relationship with one of his competitors, and whose business has suffered since.

“Forget the notion that business is a zero-sum game where one company can win only when another loses,” Spence wrote. “You have to be comfortable with shaking things up; your will to win must be greater than that of other companies in your sector, who fail to see the benefits of working with people who spend most of their time trying to beat them.”

To read the complete Financial Post article, click here.