I know, I know….some of you may read that title and immediately think ‘Shai has clearly had too much wine today’. While that may be true, so is my title, and I’m here to tell you why. If you follow my blog, social media, or are a part of my Rock Your Small Biz Facebook group long enough you’ll begin to realize that I help and encourage the helping of everyone – even people with the same niche or product as me.
I used to assume that everyone was this way – especially in the handmade business. It logically made so much sense to me that when I once received a message with something like ‘I really liked your >insert product< that you posted on Instagram the other day, but I didn’t favorite it…conflict of interest’, it totally blew my mind. I reread what she said, over and over, and every time it seemed to translate to ‘We can be friends and I can ask you for help and love your products, but I can’t support your work publicly because I’m afraid to send you customers.’
And how shitty is that?
There are many reasons that supporting your competition can help you in the long run. And, newsflash: none of them have anything to do with cattiness, pettiness, or ‘protecting’ your own assets.
The first great reason is that supporting competition helps your grow your industry as a whole. The more space there is to grow, the more specific your niche can be. I personally have a very specific niche – I have no problems sending customers to others who do ‘Mom’ necklaces, for example, because that’s not my bag. And, my business is successful enough, and my branding solid enough, that I don’t have to ‘keep myself open’ in case someone might want a custom order for one. If someone wants something I don’t do, I send them to someone who does. And, you know what, people do the same for me. The more support there is in your industry, the more breathing room you have to specialize your business and start complementing each other and referring services. Smart, eh?
Another great reason is because no business runs perfectly smooth 100% of the time and every business hits a road block of speed bump at some point in time. When those speed bumps do happen – whether they’re happening to you or your competitor – wouldn’t it be better to support each other instead of tearing each other down or turning a blind eye? I mean, if you stay in business, it will happen to you some day, too. It’s better to have a community to turn to, now a sea full of shark-like competitors.
Create partnerships with your competitors! I have a group of successful hand stampers to whom I can turn for advice or help if I need it, and it has been great to see us all working as a community. Once, in the year I’ve been a member, have I seen things get ugly, and that person was kicked out almost immediately. The rest of us send each other supplies when we run out on short notice, help us find specific designs, and refer each other to suppliers. I actually tried to buy something from one of these wonderful women a few weeks ago and, instead of selling it to me, she told me where to get the stamp myself. This same woman sent me an awesome stamped bracelet a few weeks ago and I blasted it all over my social media. Did some of ‘my’ customers buy her bracelet? Of course…it’s an awesome bracelet. I even gave a few people the direct link! I’m okay with that because a long-standing relationship with someone else in my industry is more important, and what are the chances that not posting her work would have randomly given me more sales?
So head on over to Instagram and start favoriting and following some of your competitors. Comment on their photos. Join their groups on Facebook. Be a community leader in your industry and remember my life motto: Kindness always wins.
(The products in the photo above are the creations of (from left to right, top to bottom): Farrar Creations, HarperLeeJewelry, CompletelyWiredJewel, Andie Stevens Designs, BeachCoveJewelry, 2SistersHandcrafted, TheSadBasset, and MotherDaughterJewel)