The Spirit of Business: Collaboration not Competition
Originally written and posted December 5, 2011
Are you a small business owner? I am. Even if you are not, you may be able to identify with the following in personal relationships.
The most successful businesses of today will be those that work from a place of collaboration instead of a place of competition.
I have been a business owner for many years. Even before By the Moon was in a brick and mortar location, I'd been building up my relationships both with clients and peers for years as a reflexologist. I have experienced mixed feelings throughout this time and I have witnessed other businesses struggle with the idea of competition vs collaboration to varying degrees as well. Once I was at a women's networking meeting and another reflexologist was handing out brochures to everyone at the meeting. Our hands reached towards each other as she approached me, until she made eye contact and realized who I was. Her hand snapped back at first, I sensed a feeling of protection. She curled herself around her brochure almost as if it itself represented her business and that I might hurt it in someway. Suddenly aware of her response she hesitantly reached forward again putting the brochure in my hand.
Businesses are like babies. Let me explain. At first a business is only a dream, an idea, a small seed inside our being. A strong desire around this idea builds and we try and try to conceive our new baby. Eventually, conception occurs and things start to come together. Labour comes soon after, that can sometimes be messy.
When the business is a baby, it's still learning what it means to be a business. Learning how to present oneself at different events and how to sell oneself can be tricky for some. Learning how to engage with customers, how to market the business and raise awareness. These things are like learning to sit, stand, walk and talk. At first it takes a lot of effort. We fall down a lot, probably cry when we do but eventually it comes easier and faster and we don't have to think about it anymore.
It's very easy to feel insecure. This is a normal part of growth and development. We want more than anything for our business to sustain itself, almost as badly as we would a real baby. We identify so completely with our business. How would we exist if the business no longer existed!? It would be like losing a part of oneself. That's a very scary thought. When clients are few, it's very natural to wonder if the business will ever grow or will grow at a rate that we can endure. Out of this fear, come natural feelings of threat from competition. When another business does something well, it may reflect to us feelings of insecurity for multiple reasons. It is natural to feel insecure because we wish we could do a, b or c as well. Maybe we are losing sight of what our own strengths are. When we see a "competing" business get a new client, it may be natural to feel like that is a client that we have lost. This however, is an illusion.
What I am going to do now, is suggest a new way to look at business. There are multiple reasons to change your perspective from one of competition to collaboration, if you're not already working from this place.
1. Feelings that come from working from a competitive perspective, are really uncomfortable. Any time these feelings have come up for me, they create a lot of anxiety, feelings of loss of control, insecurity, and negative feelings towards the other business/person. This is only creating suffering within whom..?
2. Being the only cupcake business in town isn't good for business anyway. I mean, it can be. It may be fantastic to be the only cupcake business in town if everyone has been waiting for a cupcake business to open up and everybody knows what cupcakes are and there's a huge market for cupcakes. But.. what if nobody knows that they want cupcakes? You have to put a lot of energy into getting the word out there about what cupcakes are and why everyone would benefit from having cupcakes. On the other hand, if there are multiple cupcake shops, you've got a team of people all doing their share promoting cupcakes, educating the public, keeping cupcakes top of mind and creating a continuous desire for cupcakes. Everybody wins because the whole community wants cupcakes now, they're happy, they have choice, because let's face it, one cupcake doesn't fit all, and when one cupcake shop needs support with a huge order, they've got multiple ovens to bank on for backup.
Working in collaboration with the other businesses, feels good. You've made friends, you can support each other, you can work off of each other i.e. you take the gluten free market, I'll take the diabetic market, you do kid's birthday parties and I will do weddings etc.
If one cupcake business really jumps on the kid's birthday party market, does it make smart business sense to try and steal the kid's birthday party market business? Not if there are a hundred other cupcake markets that nobody is reaching out too and not if the motivation is to steal the kids birthday party market.
When feelings of competition, threat and insecurity come up, what are the alternatives? What can you do to reduce your own suffering?
Focus on your clients and meeting their needs and that is what will come across to your clients. Send intentions of abundance to yourself and to your "competitors". Energetically speaking, we also receive what we put out there. What would be more beautiful than a community of abundant businesses who can continue to grow and offer great products and services to the community and use the products and services of their competitors as well.
When those feelings of threat, insecurity and competition creep up, first bring awareness to them. Recognize the feeling for what it is. Who is suffering because of it? Could your energy be better used to deliver wonderful product/service to your clients?
One way to change your feelings or perspective would be to focus on what you have to be grateful for. Grab a gratitude journal and start listing all of the simple and great things you've already attracted to you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You may have to use the journal a lot at first. Carry it everywhere if you have to. Don't be afraid to write down all of the things that make you wonderful too. These competitive feelings come from a place of insecurity inside of us. Love that and let it go. Focus on the many talents, gifts and skills you have.
Meditation and visualization is another useful tool. Those nasty feelings are coming from your ego. Do you want your ego running the show? If not, quiet the mind. Focus on your breath, listen to relaxing music or listen to a guided meditation. I like pink light meditations. I fill myself with glowing pink light and then I take time to fill other people with pink light, including people who challenge me in different ways. It can really help to dissolve my negative thoughts and I've seen relationships shift with enough pink light too.
Using meditation to clear your mind makes room for inspiration. Being busy with thoughts of jealousy, insecurity and competition take up space and shut down the creativity wheel which means potentially missing out on great ways to serve the people who you love supporting.
My first love is holistic health, especially pertaining to conception, pregnancy and birth.
My second love is marketing. I love sharing information and getting people excited about new ways to take care of themselves. Figuring out ways to reach people with integrity lights me up. Sharing my passion for sharing information with other businesses, is just as rewarding.
Business owner or not, I truly wish you much abundance, peace, love, joy and health.