Monday, October 03, 2011
Sleeping With The Enemy Might Be A Good Thing
My grandson likes to play with small action figures. His favorite play station is my bedroom because it is a quiet retreat from his siblings. He uses my bed as the backdrop for his battleground drama. When passing by my bedroom door, I often hear a "kish", pooooff!, "coo!" sound or a shout of "man down, man down as he imitates noises and phrases heard in action movies. It has been amusing until recently.
On this particular night I was burning the midnight oil and working late in my home office. I finally called it a night and crept into my bedroom anticipating the luxury of my comfy bed. I threw back the covers, positioned myself and suddenly discovered I was sleeping with the enemy. Not just one or two, but the entire army. My grandson’s ‘bad guy” army had built a fortress under my bed covers.
In one sweeping motion I knocked the action figures into a crippled heap on the bedroom floor. I can assure you visions of sugarplums were not dancing in my head. As little character heads and arms went flying and all I could envision were action figures preparing to do battle on the woman who attacked them on neutral ground because she believed they were invading her territory.
Isn't that so like us in the business world? We believe that taking out opponents invading our territory will allow us to be the dominator. In the online business world this isn't the case. Pairing up with the competition (or so called enemy) may just help us win in the end. Sleeping with the enemy might be a good thing.
In the past, territorial boundaries in business have been well defined. We find ourselves competing to be better than the other guys and willing to succeed at all costs. The fact that two people can do the same thing and do it without conflict is inconceivable. And then along comes social media and networking. This shared community concept has turned everything upside down. Just like the farming community in which I live, information, equipment, knowledge and tools are being shared to allow everyone to succeed. Companies and individuals are joining hands and embracing the idea that survival in the small business arena means collaboration.
The days of working in isolation are long gone. The new age business concept has evolved into a “team spirit” mind set. It’s an environment that expresses, “tell me what you know and I’ll tell you what I know so we can both grow our companies and make a living”. The Evil Empire concept has been crushed. We are finding it necessary to merge with our competitors. We are coming to understand that our perceived (business) enemies are well informed and decent people who might possibly be able to help us.
As business owners, we need to grow through multiplication instead of division and turn our competitors into our best allies. It’s time to take a look and determine if sleeping with the enemy might be a good business move. As we begin to understand the product differences with our competitors, we can also begin to improve our own product and make it stand out.
Certainly there will be competitors that we do not wish to share information. Those would be the “bad guys”; the guys I wiped off my bed without thought or care of their outcome. In no way am I suggesting you wipe out your enemy or competition. What I am suggesting is coming to the realization that some competitors may actually help you in collaborating a new market or product in this ever changing online business world. Take a chance. Sleep with the enemy. Engage in a relationship with your perceived Evil Empire. You might be surprised at where it takes you.