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Enemy Mine

Learning to live with the competitors you love to hate

This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Thinking about the war with Iraq got Michael D. Alter, senior vice president and founding member of SurePayroll in Skokie, Illinois, pondering the business lessons of conflict:

Do we need enemies in business? My company, SurePayroll, competes with ADP and Paychex, the No. 1 and No. 2 payroll companies in the country. SurePayroll is No. 6, having gotten there by driving in ADP and Paychex's blind spot: We cater exclusively to small businesses. ADP and Paychex probably don't think about SurePayroll too often, but I think about them all the time. Having an enemy motivates me. Our screen saver shows David (SurePayroll) using a slingshot to knock out two Goliaths (ADP and Paychex).

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