How do you feel when you meet someone who offers the same services you do? Are you excited to meet a peer, or do you view them as a competitor that you must beware of? Most people will feel either threatened or excited or possibly somewhere in between. Where you come down on this spectrum can be very telling about your general philosophy of business and life.
If you believe that there isn’t enough business to go around you will view other people who offer similar services as competitors. Every client they land is one that isn’t on your roster. You avoid sharing any information that might give a competitor ways to improve their offerings or make their work life easier. You hold your knowledge and your resources close to the vest.
However, if your “world view” is one of abundance, everything can shift. When you trust that there is enough work to go around you see people who are offering similar services as opportunities for collaboration and learning. The truth is that even people who have the same training and offer the same services add their own personalities and their own passions to the mix and will provide a different experience for their clients. And that is actually a beautiful thing! The client that is a perfect fit for one assistant could easily be an uncomfortable relationship with another. So there isn’t anyone who is exactly like you.
When you view your peers as a community of possible collaborators and support rather than threatening competitors you open amazing opportunities. It allows you to be generous in sharing what you know which makes you a valued resource. And in cultivating a spirit of generosity you’ll find that people respond to you in the same spirit. When you don’t feel threatened, you become less threatening! And a community that is built on a culture of cooperation vs. competition can provide support that is so often missing when you are a solo entrepreneur working from home.
When you no longer feel threatened by competition, you can more easily see the positive differences in what you can offer your clients and what others can offer. And if you aren’t feeling like you need to be defensive and protective you can see opportunities to collaborate and together create something even greater than either of you can do alone!
Now I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking the byline should be Pollyanna. And I’m not suggesting you should not be aware that some people will always see the world through the lens of lack and might not be good collaborators. I recommend that you go into collaborations with discussions about responsibilities of the parties which include respect for each other and understanding of the boundaries with common clients. Have I ever been burned by trusting people that were not worthy of my trust? Of course I have. But I choose to continue to view the world through the lens of abundance. And I truly believe that an attitude of giving first will always pay off in the long run. I know that it has made possible some amazing relationships that have brought me more business than I could ever have gotten if I chose to compete for clients.
So I encourage you to find groups that create a culture of cooperation vs. competition. Do your part to encourage trust and cooperation and you will attract others who share the same world view.