Today I walked to a neighborhood restaurant in a commercial district for a business lunch. I noticed a handful of small businesses that offer products and services related to home improvement — a kitchen designer, an upholsterer, and so on. And then there was an “available” storefront. It struck me that this area could become a zone for related businesses — even competitive businesses. It would become a magnet for customers from farther away, who probably don’t come here now. Bring on the lamp store, the carpet store, the garden center, and bring in lots more customers!
And then I read this blog post from The RainMaker Maker . It’s a story told in a recent commencement speech that reinforced the thought I had:
There was a farmer who grew corn. Every year his county held a contest to determine which farmer grew the best corn. Every year he won. Year after year this farmer grew the best corn in the county and he won the award. One day, a visitor noticed that this farmer gave some of his best seed to one of his neighbors. The visitor asked why he was sharing his best seed with his neighbor. Wasn’t he concerned that their corn would be better than his? Wasn’t he concerned that they would eventually win the contest for having the best corn in the county? The farmer explained that the winds in the county pick up the corn pollen from all of the neighboring farms and deposit it to all of the other neighbors, so some of his corn pollen ends up on his neighbors’ farm and some of his neighbors’ corn pollen ends up on his farm. If his neighbors’ corn was very inferior and it was deposited on his award winning corn, wouldn’t his own corn become less superior. By sharing his best seed with his neighbors, the pollen that was deposited on his farm was better than it would have been had he not shared and his corn wasn’t degraded by the blown in pollen.
Found via Dane Carlson.
Competition can be good for your business. Think about how co-located competitors could potentially improve your own business prospects, and invite them in.