Sometimes our instincts are to kill fellow businesses. Stealing their ideas and clients or customers can be common practice. You read headlines like “LEARN WHAT YOU’RE UP AGAINST“. I recently read this line “Take other businesses ideas and make them your own”. One article went as far as saying “Don’t be tempted to engage with your competitors, not unless they engage with you first”. When I was in the corporate world part of what I did as a small business social media specialist was study the competition on social media. I made weekly reports and shared significant findings with VP’s in our monthly meeting. On occasion, fellow marketers would throw out ideas for marketing campaigns against the competition. Sometimes the comments for campaigns were downright cruel. I understand wanting to be the leader in the industry but it should be done with dignity.
Personally. I have a very different approach and it is very successful for me. As you may know, I’ve had several businesses. My first “Brick and Mortar” business was in an area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called the Southside. We enjoyed working with the business community. We planned block parties and many other events together. We looked out for each other. My business partner and I had been held at gunpoint in an attempted robbery. During the scuffle, he grabbed me and held the gun to my temple but that’s a story for another day. The police grabbed the first black guy they saw completely ignoring our description. To top it off it was a neighboring business owner. We felt horrible. I had to walk by while he was in handcuffs and his face was smashed to the ground. The police repeatedly asked me if I was sure this isn’t the guy. Later when we talked he was incredibly understanding. This could have gone very differently if we had the unprincipled attitude so many business owners have. Going forward the businesses worked together to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
Years later I had the opportunity to work with several business owners in a small seaside town in the state of Washington. The group of businesses that I worked with was, fabulous but it was shocking to me how cutthroat some of the other business owners were. They would go into each other’s stores to see what they were selling and then a week later start selling the same thing. There are plenty of original ideas out there. They were caddy and rude to each other. If it wasn’t for the chamber of commerce I honestly don’t think any group events would have happened. Those events came with drama. Businesses wouldn’t share information and from a marketing standpoint, it was a nightmare. I want everyone to succeed not work against each other. Especially when you’re in a tourist area you need to be able to rely on each other.
For small businesses to survive, I strongly believe working together is integral. Think of how many towns a big box store chain has come in and slowly put all the small businesses out of business one by one. If the small businesses worked together they may have a better chance of survival.
Look for future blogs for tips on how to work with your small business community. Contact me or comment with your questions, thoughts, and opinions. Look forward to hearing from you!