Think about the industry that you are in. There are probably many businesses who are offering similar services or products as you. In the commonplace market these other businesses are considered competitors. More than likely you have many competitors in your space. This is completely normal, unless you are in a very different line of business. One thing I am personally learning is that what we can generically see as competition, can actually become a partnership of sorts. This can happen in several different ways.
- If there is a company that offers similar services as you, they may only really be able to handle more wealthily clients. Big branding companies can charge thousands of dollars a month to their clients where you may only charge hundreds. For that bigger company, they can offer much more to their clients than you can because of the size of their team. You could always talk to the leader of that company and see if they would be willing to direct clients with a smaller budget to you and you will return the favor by pointing clients who need more than you can currently offer back to them. Quid Pro Quo.
- Many times it is helpful if different companies specialize in certain areas. Say you have two media companies. Both may dabble in music production, engineering, and video production. If the two find a way to narrow their individual focus to a specific area, they could master that particular area more and share clients. Most of the clients really need all those services combined and so you can work with the same client for different services. This also gains the clients trust. Companies who are after the money will often offer to do anything for it. Those who care about the outcome of the client, will try to make sure they get the best service provided. Having a partnership with someone else in that field allows for that to be accomplished.
- Another possibility is to create an affiliate programs. This is similar to the previous idea. Only this would provide incentives for your partners to send business your way. When they send you business, you send them a portion of the income from that business transaction. This works really well for many companies and small business owners.
- After working with a partner like this, one day you may actually combine forces full-time. This would be considered a joint venture where a new company is established and all the services and products are provided in that new company. This is usually a harder thing to accomplish, so it doesn't happen too often. It can be hard to figure out the leadership dynamic and overall company structure in these scenarios. This usually turns into an acquisition instead of a joint venture. Make sure to get some experienced third-party help if you plan on creating a joint venture.
These are just a few ways to convert a competition into a partnership. There are others creative ways to do this as well. You really need to get to know others in your industry and make sure you don't burn any bridges. Business isn't about tearing down everyone else so that you can succeed. It is about being the best at what you do and serving the customers. That can often include pointing them to another business that can better fit their current needs. This shows that it isn't all about you, but about the customer. It is a narrow path and that is why very few take it. Stand out and be smart and considerate.