Why supporting your competition will grow your business


Com-friend-itors Jonathan Fields and Charlie Gilkey, at Jonathan’s Good Life Camp

Hello from the skies above!

I am on a flight to Washington, DC, on my way to speak at 2016 Reinvention Weekend, an intensive workshop for entrepreneurs, produced by my friend Melinda Emerson, known as the formidable Small Biz Lady.

Last week I was in Nashville, speaking at my friend Tim Grahl’s Bestseller Summit for authors.

Next week, I will host John Jantsch and Jon Loomer at my small business incubator space K’é,for a workshop on Facebook ads.

Later that week, I will speak to John’s Duct Tape Consultants at their training event.

And the week after that, I will be cavorting with Michael and Amy Port, speaking at their Ft. Lauderdale event, Heroic Public Speaking.

(I am a little tired just reading this list, when booking each event separately, I didn’t realize how much travel October held!)

The ties that bind us

What is the glue between all these events?

  • All the organizers are personal friends
  • All the organizers have directly competitive offerings to my products and services

The myth of competition

All of us — Melinda, Tim, John, Jon, Michael and Amy — share a mission, and that is to build the skills and capacity of small business owners and thought leaders. We do that in different ways — some of them in the form of unique services. Sometimes we do that in the form of directly competitive offerings.

Michael Port and John Jantsch have two directly competing programs — Book Yourself Solid School of Coach Training and Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. You would think that they would be critical and suspicious of each other, worried about one “stealing” customers from the other. Instead, they pal around together all the time (most recently on Michael’s boat, where we all paddle boarded and caught sun together). They share each other’s work. They call each other for advice and input when solving business problems.

The market is not a finite resource, where we have to battle over customers. The market has gigantic needs, and we all need each other to help meet them.

When I know that I am part of a broader coalition of authors, teachers, mentors and coaches who are working toward a common mission of building the leadership capacity of the small business market, I feel strengthened, not weakened.

I zero in on the pieces that I do best for the specific problems that I want to solve. That becomes my unique, competitive offering.

Your people want a solution, and they want YOU to deliver it

In a sea of multiple service providers, there is a reason why we choose our specific teachers and coaches. They have to both help us solve our problems, and connect with our values, style and learning needs.

I believe in always going for problem solving ability first. Even if you personally like someone a lot, you want to make sure that you are investing in working with them because they offer real competence and effective tools.

Once that need is met, then you make sure that your values are aligned, your styles are compatible, and your brands harmonize.

Your homework

If you want to start to build your own community of peers, leading to increased opportunities, impact and income, here is your homework:

-Define your righteous competitors

These are folks who are solid in integrity, deliver the goods, and walk their talk. You would trust the outcomes they would deliver to your prospective client, even though you know that you would deliver as well.

-Connect and find out where your missions align, overlap and diverge

What is the common ground between you? What great things do you offer that they don’t, and vice versa?

-Find ways to show up in each others’ watering holes

Are you producing an event? Invite your peers to speak. Are you writing an article for your blog? Feature the work of your righteous competitors in your articles. Are you unable to fulfill a customer need, or are too busy to serve them? Refer them to a peer competitor.

What goes around comes around

In this month alone, I will reach hundreds of new people who have never heard of me or my work before. Because we have met through a trusted connection, there is less friction in developing a relationship.

Based on past experience, I know that some of these new people will end up participating in my programs, or hiring me as a coach, or inviting me to speak.

When I am at my peers’ events, Tweeting, Facebooking and Instagramming away, as I always do, my community will learn about my amazing peers, connect with them, and then participate in their programs, events and services.

We all win.

If you have chosen well, the market for your product or service has ample opportunities. Nurture the entire ecosystem, and everyone will be stronger.

Reader Interactions


  1. Sara Korn says

    Thank you for sharing this Pam, it’s so true and so relevant. I’ve been thinking about creating a partner network of freelance writers somehow but wasn’t sure how to go about it. This post gives me some actionable next steps.

  2. Dave says

    Love, love, love this, Pam!
    I feel the same way. Plus, I naturally love to help people in my network.

    Sorry I missed you (and Tim) in Nashville. I was in Florida with the family for fall break.

    • Pamela Slim says

      Thanks Dave!!

      I agree, helping is so much more fun than scheming to take people down. 🙂

      So sorry we missed you too! Nashville is awesome, I want to come back and visit! Todd Henry showed me around, since he knew the town from his days as a country singer. 🙂

  3. Antrese Wood says

    Pamela, this is fantastic!

    In the artist community, I’ve been able to develop really wonderful friendships with artists who I can go to anytime I feel stuck. It’s such a relief to have people who really understand what you’re going through – because they’ve been there too!

    But I see I have work to do in my online business! I could be doing much better at reaching out to “competitors.”

  4. Kirsten says

    This notion of turning competition inside out is heartening and aligns with my values. It also supports how I want to be in community with those around me. Sometimes it takes courage to go against our own “small or scarcity” thinking. and, I appreciate how you have written about this topic with love and joy. Your blog has extended my vision (in a tangible way) of what is possible.

    Living in New Zealand has taught me so much- and one thing is how people support each other — as their extended whanau (family). I am encouraged to build on ways to be ourselves and to suppor/respect each other’s unique offerings.

    My goal is to lift up — and each one of us will reach different people. It will take many people to create change.

  5. Mitch Mitchell says

    I rarely think of anyone as competition. I believe there’s enough to go around for everyone. Sure, I’m not going to give everything I know away without a bit of back and forth, but I do give a lot of my time to helping other people do business better, including people in my industry.

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