“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”

—Lao-tzu


Your Competitors Are Not The Competition

We are always cordial with our competitors, largely because we don’t see them strictly as ‘competitors’. Not only does this assure we have less drama in our life, but also means we are alive to opportunities where possibly we can work collaboratively together. Additionally, with a shared specialty and interests, it is likely you will see them at the same conferences, outlets, and events you attend, so get to know them and treat them with respect.

That is not to advocate being naive. There will be some merely interested in meeting with you to advance only themselves, or to see if they should take you seriously as a competitor. But overall, it will always pay off to be friendly and informed about the competition that’s out there. And look at it this way, if they’re ever over-booked, they may be far more likely to pass extra business over to you, just for making that extra effort and being a decent human being. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice!

Many businesses actually benefit from having many providers-of-service. Take lawyers for example (one lawyer in a town can just get by, but two lawyers can make a killing!) As long as you’re in an industry that has a market, or can create a market, the sky’s the limit. Business attracts business, and a colleague’s wild success may very well carry over to your office as people start to pay more attention to your industry in general.

Don’t assume that those who you see as ‘competitors’ are actually ‘in competition’ with you. Every business develops diverse types of relationships with their clientele differently, so internally your businesses may not work the same way. You may occasionally provide a missing piece for them, and vice versa. We have both been successful in undertaking partnership and joint business opportunities with other companies, big and small.

Remember, your competitors stay in business by looking at and being aware of any and all opportunities, being flexible and open to possibilities, as well as working hard. Once you understand what their objectives and method of operations are, you will be able to assess where your interests may merge, and what may become points of possible collaboration or joint projects.

For example, every business is interested in cutting costs by getting the best deal from vendors. One way is for a minimal order discount — where you team up to ‘bulk buy’, and both end up with savings. This could work with office supplies, fuel, or advertising. Always be aware of any strategy where you could team up with one or more competitors with the end result of increasing profits for both of you.

It may seem counter intuitive, but even if another business is doing work that you could be doing, the possibility is still there to create a more profitable ‘joint venture’ that at the end of the day serves everyone’s best interests. There’s just nothing wrong with win/win, is there?


When I was teaching, Teachers were called associates. When I became an entertainer, people appeared to be very competitive. I called up several competitors who were further on in their careers and introduced myself and asked as many questions as they had time for. Some of those “competitors” I now call my close friends.