Winning Doesn’t Mean they Lose
Whether you’re a business owner, a manager, or a professional, you are competing for business with someone else. Most people believe that in order for their business to succeed, their competitors should fail. That, however, is a fallacy.
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,” Proverbs 24:17 ESV.
In the book of Proverbs we learn about being a good sport. It’s a great way to make sure your heart stays kind, and it’s a great way to ensure that your life remains stress free (not to mention you show the love of Christ). But we can extrapolate this to more than just being a kind person.
Two Ways to Hold what you Have
As children, we were always taught to share. It’s the best way to develop relationships, and make sure that other kids want to be around you. However, many adults seem to have forgotten that concept. They feel they’ve worked hard for what they have, and they need to hold onto it so nobody takes it away.
There are two ways, however, to hold onto what you have. You can hold on with a closed fist, so that nobody can pluck away what you’ve worked hard for. Or you can hold on with an open hand, so that if someone has a need you can share.
The real twist is that with the open hand, you not only hold on to what you have, but you can receive more. With a closed hand you keep what you have, but you can never get more.
Here’s how that plays out in real life: Danny owns and operates Absolute Vinyl, a fencing company here in Billings. He has good relationships with his competitors, even though they “take away” business from him. Several years ago, one of his competitors had their router machine break. That competitor came to Danny and asked if he could use the Absolute Vinyl router for 3 weeks while his was repaired. Open handedly, Danny said yes.
But the real lesson comes a few years later. When the router machine at Absolute Vinyl broke, Danny approached the competitor and asked to use his machine for 5 weeks while their machine was being repaired. The competitor said, “Of course you can.”
If Danny had held on tightly to what he had, the competitor would have been set back; and Absolute Vinyl would get more business for those three weeks. But then a couple of years later, when their machine broke, the competitor would likely have said no… and Absolute Vinyl would have gone out of business.
Competition Breeds Better Business
You have probably heard this before, but it’s an important concept that most don’t understand. Competition is good for business.
Let’s suppose that you’re the only roofing company in Billings. Everyone that needs a roof must come to you. At first you’re happy about that, and you keep doing a top quality job for everyone. After a while, however, you get greedy, anxious, and tired. So you cut a few corners, you take longer on jobs, your communication starts to slip. But since everyone HAS to use your services, there’s no reason to keep doing better.
Now suppose a competitor comes along. Your prices are exactly the same, but he does a better job than you do. He works harder, works faster, and has better customer service. Suddenly, you’re not earning as many customers. Now you have two choices: lower your prices and try to lure people in that way, or step up your game and do a better job.
Competition is good because it breeds better businesses. But as your business gets better, be careful not to bad mouth your competition. Instead, help them to become better as well. Everyone wins that way.
Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, talks about scarcity and abundance mentality. Here’s how that basic idea works in this situation:
You and your competitors both want to attract business. The scarcity mentality says that there are only so many customers to go around, and if you get one of them, that means one less for your competitor. But with the abundance mentality, the idea is a little different. The idea here is that if you do a great job, and your competitor does a great job, then there will be plenty of business for both of you.
When you rejoice at your competitors failures, you slip into the scarcity mindset. That mindset is a slippery slope where your business doesn’t do as well, your customers don’t get as good of a product, and you end up causing problems for yourself.
Rejoice with your Competitors and Offer Help when they Fail
Just like when you were a kid, and you beat the opposing team in a game, you didn’t laugh and gloat and tell them how badly they played. Instead, you gave them high fives, and congratulated them on a game well played. You were a good sport.
In business, and in your adult life, be a good sport. Lend a hand to those who are your “enemies”, and make the world a better place.