Owning a small business can sometimes feel like it is "them or you". Falling behind, even for a moment, can open the door for a more tech-savy business with more resources to swoop in and take your customers. But that fierce competition among small businesses doesn't always have to mean it is them or you. Changing the way you view your competitors can pave the way for future collaborations that will benefit everyone involved.
Entrepreneur Jay Bernstein, founder and CEO of B2B social networking platform WinWin, says, "Collaboration is vital to every business. There are so many opportunities out there for businesses to work together to exchange ideas and increase purchasing power."
Bernstein's company is based on what he calls the "neighbor principle". Here's what his concept entails: You are out of eggs and you go to your neighbor to borrow some. The next day, it is snowing so you bring your snow blower down the hill to help him out. This same idea is applied to small businesses. Competing companies can actually leverage each other's strengths to grow their businesses, and it costs little or nothing to do it!
To bring about this mutual growth, small businesses can put this neighbor principle into effect. For instance, a web design company can offer their services to another local business and in exchange, they get a link back on the homepage. You could combine similar inventory and orders between businesses and, in turn, receive a discounted wholesale price. A neighboring PR company can host an event at your restaurant to bring in business, while at the same time, marketing its own services. Collaborating with other small businesses can be much more effective than trying to compete with them.
"Collaboration saves time, saves money, and levels the playing field for American companies," Bernstein told Business News Daily. "[Instead of outsourcing], businesses who collaborate can keep money in the country and their local economies."
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