Working with the Competition: Is it Good for Business?The conventional wisdom in business is everything should be viewed through a prism of “us vs. them.”

If my business succeeds, my competitor’s business must fail. If my business struggles, my competitor  must be doing something better than me.

But what if the opposite is true?

What if working with the competition actually helped you in the long run?

That is the question posed by Megan Broussard, creator of the career-lifestyle site ProfessionGal. In an article for The Daily Muse, Broussard offers reasons why working with—rather than against—the competition is actually a good idea.

Working with the Competition Strengthens Your Industry

Your business can only succeed if your industry as a whole succeeds as well.

By supporting the competition, "you are growing the environment in which you both need to thrive," — attracting a larger customer base and creating more business opportunities for both of you.

It Helps Everyone’s Bottom Line

When the industry grows, there is more space for both you and your competitor to grow. More space offers the opportunity to develop new and promising niche markets. In time, your businesses begin to complement each other, paving the way for valuable cross-promotions and referrals.

Even if your competitor offers products or services very similar to yours, “chances are the volume or demand will need to be shared at some point—and in being on good terms, that ‘rival company’ may send those clients to you,” Broussard notes.

It Spurs You to Excellence

Without the challenge presented by a competitor, “we might never feel the burning urge to push ourselves, prove others wrong, and strive for what was once unthinkable.”

How can we measure our performance, if not by using competitors as a benchmark?

When you know the competition (and occasionally work with them), you have a clearer idea of what to measure. Not only does this help you effectively track the progress of your business, “it’s also the best feeling to know that if you do ‘win,’ you are competing against the absolute best.”

It Cushions Your Fall, if Needed

When someone’s business experiences a crisis of some kind, you do not generally see their competitors crowing about it in public. As Broussard notes, even in “cutthroat industries like airlines and restaurants,” competitors rarely talk badly about a brand going through hard times, or even about companies that are clearly failing.

“That is because it could happen to them, too—and if that day comes, they would not want that competitor to kick them when they are down.”

Bad things can happen at any time. By “playing nice in the small business sandbox,” the support of a competitor can soften the blow and “only help you in the long run.”

Broussard is not suggesting you make any grand gestures of assistance to the competition. “What I mean is that it only takes a few small gestures to create a longstanding partnership, or at least respect, between you and your competitors.”

Share industry updates, encourage lines of communication, look for opportunities to partner for a charitable cause. It can be a win-win.

What are your thoughts about working with the competition?