Why Now Is The Perfect Time To Partner With Your Competitors The next time you meet someone that you can see as a competitor, try to look at their business in a different way- look for those opportunities where you could benefit each other.

By Sohail Khan

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It is amazing how many business owners and corporate employees view similar businesses strictly as "competitors." And it's sad that these same business professionals throw away some of the best opportunities they face, if only they could see the opportunity. After all, now is the perfect time to start working together with your competitors to find a way out of the current economic situation.

What do I mean by that? If you own an Italian restaurant, isn't every other restaurant in the city or town your competitor, your arch rival? Well, maybe, but not necessarily. Sure, they are just a rival if that's how you choose to look upon their business and treat them. A wiser approach would be to look upon these other businesses and think, "Okay, so we compete for some of the same clientele or market. But, what can that business and mine offer each other that is mutually beneficial? In what ways can we work together without being at risk?"

Here is a scenario of someone working for a fabric manufacturer, managing a manufacturing facility. Suddenly, they have a terrible running condition with a particular product line. Their equipment is bogged down, and what production they could get on the product was off quality. Of course, they would then start looking at their process for something that had inadvertently changed to cause the problem. They would check machine settings, prior processes, and so forth- everything they could think of.

Well, you have probably guessed the rest of this story– they finally decided the problem was with the raw material from their supplier. They called the supplier in. But the best call they made was to a "competing" manufacturing company. Low and behold, they found out they had the same problem from the same supplier's raw material! And just to be sure, they called a second "competitor," and got the same information. Imagine, all three of them were shocked and elated at the same time!

Related: Three Lessons From The Military That Can Help Business Leaders Battle The COVID-19 Crisis

If you have ever struggled with a problem in your business that you could not resolve, you can imagine how good it felt to suddenly have this information. As it turned out, the facility and the management of the two "competitors" worked together to compile information and testing results, which gave them huge bargaining power with the supplier. Now, just think how long they might have struggled, or battled the supplier on their own, had they not decided to contact those competitors and work together.

The restaurant scenario and the manufacturing story are both examples of "strategic alliance partnering" between similar businesses. So, why not figure out a way to partner that is financially advantageous to both parties? Or joining forces with another business to partner on a project for a large customer can be another way. Perhaps you cannot supply all the goods or services needed to complete a project. But if you would partner with someone in a similar business, you could together satisfy the client's needs, offer a first-rate proposal, and get business neither of you would have gotten alone.

Endorsing each other is another strategic alliance that marketing professionals and celebrities often use. They endorse each other's products and services, and thus, they both gain credibility to potential buyers. In the real estate industry, there are many good examples of alliances. For instance, real estate brokers work together- look at the things they do together– they share resources for property inspectors, mortgage lenders, contractors, etc. Why? Because they both want to close sales on properties with prospective clients. They work together and split the commissions on these sales. If they turn their noses up and don't help each other, then nobody gets any commission at all.

So, back to my comment at the beginning of this article: "it's sad that business professionals throw away some of the best opportunities they face, if only they could see the opportunity." The next time you meet someone that you can see as a competitor, try to look at their business in a different way. Look for those opportunities where you could benefit each other. Don't just write them off, clam up around them, and hold them at arm's length. By doing so, you might just be passing up a strategic alliance that could grow your business in our current economy, and give you the boost you need.

Related: An Action Plan For Business Leaders To Tackle The COVID-19 Crisis (And Its Aftermath)

Sohail Khan

CEO and founder, The Joint Venture Group

Sohail Khan is the bestselling author of Guerrilla Marketing and Joint Ventures. He's a joint venture expert, entrepreneur, investor, and business mentor. He has launched and exited several seven- and eight-figure business ventures.

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