Make Your Competition Work for You

Companies today are paranoid, afraid that even their allies will steal their business. Yet a creative collaboration with your biggest competitor may be the best opportunity for revenue and survival. But remember that dancing with the wolves can also get you eaten for lunch. You have to take the risk but keep your wits about you.

Your goal is coopetition: to find a way to partner with your competitor in such a way that both parties can substantially benefit from the other’s resources — without stealing customers or damaging anyone’s credibility. It’s a great survival strategy for small companies or entrepreneurs, and a good expansion strategy for even the largest companies.

As an example, a few years ago I worked for small software company selling an expensive enterprise workflow product. It was heavy on visual development capability but light on modeling and simulation, and we kept battling a competitor in the marketplace who had essentially the inverse strengths in a similar product. We were both losing in the lucrative high-end market segment. Neither could afford to build what the other had, but we could easily integrate some of our combined features in a shared product.


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