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Why Cooperation Is Better Business Than Competition A fixation with hierarchy and winning blinds us to networking and win-win solutions.

By Warren Cassell, Jr. Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Who doesn't want to be an entrepreneur?

Everyone wants to be their own boss and control their working hours while making money doing what they love. But the rigor of building a business image is hard. And more and more the ability of the business to deliver on its promise is becoming secondary. In today's business landscape, where almost everyone wants to stay on top of the game, how will you attract your potential consumers and let your business stand out from the rest?

Related: Cutthroat vs. Cooperative: How Do You View Competition?

Seventy-five percent of new businesses are said to fail within their first three years, and running out of working capital is one of the top reasons for this. I disagree, though; I believe that the Survival of the Fittest rule has made new entrepreneurs think in a way that steers them into business failure.

The Survival of the Fittest rule is practiced and promoted everywhere. It states that in order to remain on top, you need to do everything you can to be the "top-player" in your field, even if it means pouring boiling oil on your opponents. Eat or be eaten. Slay or be slayed.

This thought is a pitfall; it ignites competitiveness among businesses, not cooperation. After all, mankind has come this far through cooperation, not competitiveness.

In my recent book, Swim or Drown: Business and Life Lessons that I've Learned from the Ocean, I explain that this practice is a pitfall. I even disprove the existence of a "top-player". The position of "top player" is merely an illusion and its definition is impossible to determine because we all offer our unique features and strengths. Here's an excerpt from the book:

Related: Cooperative Companies Offer an Alternative to Franchising

An example in business would be the clothing industry. If we define this area as general clothing (not narrowing it down into different niches) and use profits as the measuring stick, it's probably chain stores that are at the top. However, if we use brand recognition or prestige as the scale for the best, high-end fashion companies will come out on top. And if we measure by quality, much smaller companies might rise to the top.

Added to that, today's changing landscape of business involves integrating with its immediate surroundings, looking for possibilities of transformation, and being one with the economic facet, while remaining true to the core of the business.

In the truest sense, being a survivor in the business world means having the ability to cooperate directly or indirectly with other business models, sift and run your business based on available economic resources, and think of effective communication strategies to make your consumers notice you. In short, the innate ability to see the business landscape with a fresh perspective – not with the ferocious vision of crushing anyone who crosses your path.

Being a survivor doesn't mean that you should be the only one who would, and who could, succeed. For example, in a beauty contest, all are vying for the crown. But in reality, each of the ladies who managed to clinch their way to prestigious beauty titles is a survivor in her own way. It may seem like they are competing for the crown, but in reality, each of them are cooperating within the beauty organization to raise a specific awareness.

In a business structure, businesses forge partnerships to raise awareness among consumers, tapping each other's potential and maximizing it to the fullest. That's what you call coordination within competition: unity in diversity.

By developing our own unique strengths and talents and focusing on cooperation instead of competition, we keep the ecology of the business world diverse and healthy. There's no need for anyone to claim a generalized top position. We have to work together to make the system function.

Related: Richard Branson on the Myth of the Lone-Wolf Entrepreneur

Warren Cassell, Jr.

Sixteen Year Old Investor and Author of 'The Farm of Wisdom'

Like most adolescents, Warren balances his time between schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but that’s probably the most he has in common with his peers. Warren, 15, is an award-winning entrepreneur, published author and investor living in the Caribbean. His work is focused on the connection between business and nature.

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