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CityCard: Collaboration is the New Edge! How to Turn Your Competition into a Partnership

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When it comes to business, there are a few things every brand or individual recognizes – opportunity, financial implication, the market and competition.

Having a clear sense of your competitor, in a particular market, not only gives you the right market survey, but also provides you with targets on who you need to surpass in order to hold the title of ‘Top Dog’.

The aim is always to beat the competition to the finish line. But what if this race wasn’t a 200m sprint? What if it’s actually a relay race? What If the only way to win the gold medal was by passing the baton and working together for the gold?

In today’s business world where new ideas and ventures are springing up every other day, markets are getting saturated…fast! More people are breaking down industries to mini-careers to get their piece of the pie, even if it means scrambling for the crumbs no one notices has fallen off the plate.

Take the beauty industry for example – a lot of entrepreneurs are no longer looking to be the one who sells makeup or help apply it. Some have settled for being the middleman in connecting both parties, or have chosen to become connoisseurs in the sale of individual products. But imagine if all these units came together in partnership? Imagine what they could achieve.

It is easy to invest in trying to beat the competition. I mean, after all, they are the ones keeping you from making all the sales possible. But one underlying fact you must always remember is that competition will always be there – that’s why they’re called competition.

They keep you on your feet and challenge you to be more. So, imagine what would happen if you joined forces with these people – who have ideas, experience, clout, know-how, knowledge, investors or finances that you may not – to take over the market and make mutually beneficial progress. What would happen if you and your competition were to lay down your armor and partner instead?

Here are some benefits of making 1+1=1.

Mentorship Promotes Good Business
In your industry, chances are that, there are many people/brands that have gone ahead of you. They’ve made the mistakes, and learned from them and their business is thriving.

Having these kinds of mentors is a great way to grow your business. As we like to say – Experience is the slowest way to learn. Partner with these mentors, especially if they are in your exact industry, to learn from their mistakes and gain knowledge.

As a younger brand, you would provide fresh ideas to keep things upbeat, and your mentor would provide experience to avoid pitfalls. If you have the same level of experience or have been in existence just as long as your competition, there will always be holes in your strategy or game plan that the competition will take advantage of.

Partnering would turn that hole from an imperfect crack in the wall, to a door to greater wealth for both of you.

Burning Bridges Could Leave You Stuck
Healthy competition is great; it keeps you on your toes, sharpens your reflexes and drives you. But unhealthy competition only creates unhealthy relationships and kills future potential. Chances are that in the lifespan of your company, you would, at one point or the other, have to join forces with your competition.

It could be for a seminar, a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative or something else entirely. But the chances of you working with the competition at one point or the other are very high.

It is important to keep an open flow of communication between you and your fellow industry folk to promote the possibility of bigger growth for both your brands in the future. And who knows, they might end up acquiring your company tomorrow.

Always remember that tomorrow isn’t certain. The tides may turn and you may need that bridge to cross over to safety one day.

Sharing Information can Benefit Both Ways
Even though some brands would rather close up shop than reach out to a competitor for help, your ability to share information and receive plays a huge part in your success.

Let’s say for example you sell flowers for a living and you have a large order for 2000 red roses. If you have only 1500 stems of red roses in stock, would you rather decline the order and have it end up in the arms of your competition any way, or reach out to them in partnership and complete the order?

A problem shared is a problem half solved; so reach out and establish an understanding partnership that doesn’t give away your trade secrets, but creates an avenue for combined effort whenever it’s needed.

Partnerships are Good for the Industry
As much as gathering all the Big Dog points matters a lot, every single move you and your competition make affects your industry as a whole.

When you become the lone wolf and neglect partnerships, you are not only alienating yourself, but diminishing value and the sense of community in your industry – which is essentially important. This is why Trade Organizations and various bodies hold industry-inspired events to not just bring people together, but to connect you to the lifeline of the industry so you/your brand may have longevity.

Teaching Does More Good than Harm
One thing we have noticed in Nigerian entrepreneurship is the presence of mentors who do not share information or are willing to teach. They carry an “I don’t want them to steal my customers” mentality that cripples them in more ways than one.

Teaching accomplishes more than withholding does. Your ability to not just partner, but share valuable information not only strengthens your core as a leader, but promotes the system of interaction and mutual growth.

After all, someone shared information with you and that’s why you have come this far. If you have knowledge, share it!

Industries do not survive on seclusion. They can only grow when its various components connect and intertwine to make it stronger as a whole.

Have you ever experienced any kind of hardship in a partnership? Do you want to partner but are not sure how? Are you in a partnership that isn’t working? Share your thoughts with us and let’s figure it out!

Photo Credit: Yunuli123 | Dreamstime.com

CityCard is a digital customer loyalty platform for small businesses. CityCard helps merchants improve customer retention by providing an easy means of enabling rewards programs for customers. CityCard also provides actionable insights and analytics into customer behaviour. To find out more visit www.citycard.com.ng

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