Can competitors add value to your business?
The world can be a complex place to navigate alone and so too can business.
It’s common for businesses to enter into that stage of “head down bum up”, doing what they are doing how they have always done it... and going it alone, but like a good marriage, finding a partner to align with can help us look up, smell the roses and secure the future.
All too often businesses (specifically small-medium enterprises/ SMEs) fail to recognise the value of relationships and how they help to future proof and create resilient companies.
When I help companies identify and map stakeholders, customers and staff are clearly the first groups to be put up for consideration and while they may be the priority, there are far more connections and players in a company’s success that should be considered.
If the definition of a stakeholder is simply someone or some group that can “make or break” your business the list of stakeholders becomes far greater and complex – it includes suppliers, funding bodies, regulatory authorities etc. But one that fails to make the list on so many occasions is the “Competitor/s” and that in itself can be an opportunity missed.
The truth is if a business is working in a similar space, pitching for the same work and finding? ways to pip you at the post they could well “break your business” or at the very least be a pain in your side.
So, let’s explore some of the opportunities that competitors could bring to your business…
The workload may be similar or seasonal across an industry, exploring this consideration in itself may present opportunities. Can you share any overflow at times or subcontract to support busy periods rather than waste resources hunting out temporary labour or services? Do you have a pool of casual staff that would benefit from more work in your down times? Could you yourself use more staff for a short time?
Big business often has buying power that sees them pay less for supplies, resulting in lower costs to potential customers for their services or products. Do you use the same supplies/ suppliers as your competitor? If so can you leverage this for savings by identifying the economies of scale available? Can you order in bulk and split the costs? Or have a joint ‘preferred supplier agreement’ that provides a discounted rate?
Professional costs can be a major financial burden to SMEs. Consider if you and your competitor/s use the same recruitment consultants or approach. Could you share applicant details (when permission is given) of those looking for work that you simply can’t employ but who have impressed you? Are there times when you could advertise for different roles but share the advertising costs? Even considering Health and Safety requirements, could a consultant be shared across competitor sites or a job share position created where the staff member undertakes a full-time role across two or three businesses?
Is some new regulation or legislation likely to affect your business, if so the ability for an industry to speak with a collective voice is exceptionally powerful and more likely to be heard, so connecting with competitors to identify an approach to lobby or submit concerns could see a decision overturned or redirected.
And of course, where the opportunity to tender for contracts seems out of reach for small businesses, there is always the option to collaborate and jointly pitch for work highlighting the innovation and expertise being brought to the offer by all parties.
These are only a few of the opportunities that present themselves when competitors start to look beyond their patch and explore what lives outside and who could help them grow. As with anything, there will be underlying complexities but building relationships with free and frank communication will support the development of authentic connections.
So, if you would like to grow your business through relationships, call us to book a time to discuss your needs on 021 756 074.