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Bring It On There's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. In fact, it's what some entrepreneurs live for.

By Geoff Williams

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The fresh-faced teenager in the McDonald's commercial mightbe smiling and seem friendly, but fast-food legend Ray Kroc oncesaid, "If I ever saw a competitor drowning, I'd put a livefire hose in his mouth."

Don't judge the late Ray Kroc too harshly. He was speakingof an age-old tradition. Entrepreneurs have always trounced thecompetition, and it hasn't always been pretty. in the 1800s,John D. Rockefeller made Standard Oil company into a monopoly,controlling 90 percent of the oil market, by negotiating secretrebates with railroads, bribing Congressmen and committingindustrial espionage. About the same time, in England, the UnitedKingdom Telegraph Company hired men to cut down the poles of itsrival, Electric Telegraph Company. As that century closed,newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst helped start theSpanish-American War to sell newspapers and crush his competition.More recently, Microsoft has been in the news facing accusations ofusing unfair business practices in an attempt to build its ownmonopoly.

But while entrepreneurs have always been against the opposingteam, the way we're competing is changing. "Competitionisn't as cutthroat as it used to be," observes RogerNagel, a professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,and co-author of Cooperate to Compete: Building Agile BusinessRelationships (John Wiley & Sons) and Agile Competitors andVirtual Organizations: Strategies for Enriching the Customer (JohnWiley & Sons). "When you're finished with yourcompetitors, you no longer have to see them lying on theground."

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