A quick online search of whatever industry you are working in will likely bring up page after page of businesses or nonprofits working in the same space you are. But chances are you do not need to be convinced that there is competition. You know better than anyone. Everytime you see a new Instagram post or ad for a business similar to yours, you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach. Not the best feeling, right? Is there a way to change this?
Changing Our Default: Collaboration Over Competition
What if this fearful state of competition was not the only option? What if our first instinct when we saw others doing similar work was to be inspired to think beyond what we have normally done and find ways to work together towards a common goal. What if our default thought was about collaboration?
Collaboration is more than a buzzword to put on your website or a passing trend to consider. As purposeful entrepreneurs collaboration needs to become our first instinct when we survey the market. Because doing meaningful work is best with an abundance mentality, we believe that there is enough to go around. More people at the table will only result in more creative solutions which ultimately helps advance our mission.
4 Ways to Start
Collaboration can sound daunting. You may feel like you need to have all of your ducks in a row before you can even entertain the idea of collaborating in some way with others. This simply isn’t the case. Collaboration as a mentality and as a way to view relationships with “competitors” can be an intimidating shift to make. Here are a few ways to start:
Start small. It can feel unnatural to promote or cheer on others – especially those who are operating in the same space. Knowing what you can happily give (and what you can’t) is key to collaboration. The key words here are happily and give. Giving a sincere compliment, a bit of helpful advice, a shoutout on social media, your presence at an event, or a small discount on your product or service. Give only what you can happily do without an expectation that you will receive anything in return. It can be common to have unofficial expectations attached to what we give that can leave us feeling disappointed. The more you do this, the easier it will get.
Get creative. In other words, ask yourself how things have always been done, and consider doing something different. One example of this we’ve seen recently is when a group of local coffee shops (most whom could be considered in direct competition with one another) created a Disloyalty Card. The premise was simple, yet incredibly creative. The card was like a typical loyalty punch card, but instead of encouraging exclusivity, it directed customers to try out other local coffee shops in addition to the one they regularly frequented. In this example the smaller shops creatively came together to collaborate and drive traffic and success for small, locally owned shops.
Focus on the mission. If you find yourself feeling jealous of another founder, company, organization that has had success in some way, ask yourself WHY you do what you do. Then focus on the mission of the other organization. This will reveal one of two things. One, they are focused on really cool purposeful work and their success means more good things are happening in the world. Or two, they aren’t focused on purpose driven work and therefore may appeal to a different target demographic. This means they aren’t in direct competition with you. It also gives you an opportunity to connect and invite them into more purposeful work.
Find a community. At its core, collaboration happens when you make connections with other people who are passionate about purposeful work and meaningful impact. If you’re looking for a place to connect with others, check out our coworking spaces or hop on up to our coaching page to see the next group coaching sessions filled with other people on the same path as you.