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If you’re in the “online business” sphere you will no doubt have come across someone (or many someones) that does exactly what you do.

How do you deal with this competition in business? Do you block them on every channel? Start the cyber-stalking? Prime your posse to attack at the slightest slight?

I feel like in our little biz world, we’re conditioned to view these rivals with suspicion. I’ve done it myself on occasion. I’ve had a soupy melty breakdown when I’ve seen someone I know recommend another writer.

But now… I’m not so convinced. Warnings of saturated markets don’t bother me so much. Obsessing about others is a distraction.

Don’t get me wrong. You may get a shit-bag that steals your content, or bad mouths you online, or underbids you… but you can’t assume that EVERYONE will do that, just because they’re in your field. I mean, is that what YOU would do to them?

I’ve been in a Facebook group before, and discovered that the owner (a business coach) will not under any circumstances let another business coach in. It reminded me of being back at school. It’s unnecessary, and kind of nasty. What if that first business coach was approached by someone with a tech start-up, while their area of expertise is heart-centred stuff? That coach could have had the perfect referral lined up, if they were willing to be less paranoid.

Kick someone out when you know they’re a dick, not when you only know the first superficial thing about them.

A week or so ago, I saw this video making the rounds on Facebook – Dawn French introducing Jennifer Saunders at the Glamour awards:

French starts her intro with a parody of hyper-competitiveness (which highlights how utterly ridiculous it is), but for me, something even more striking happened when Saunders took the mic.

“If I have made a contribution to anything, I hope it’s the promotion of female friendships.”

YES. Finally. Someone who doesn’t buy into this “there can only be one winner” thing. Can you imagine if Jen had taken that approach? If she had refused to associate herself with another comedienne? There would be no French & Saunders. THERE WOULD BE NO AB FAB.

To spell it out for you – you will have so many more opportunities at your fingertips, if you’re willing to engage within your niche.

  • You could cultivate a great friendship, with someone that understands your daily struggles.
  • You could guest post for a site that shares your target audience.
  • You could bounce ideas around with someone that gets it.
  • You could help someone figure out if this is even their zone of genius.
  • You could learn about your craft from a different perspective.
  • You could find someone to refer clients to, if you’re fully booked/taking a break/not interested in working with them.
  • You could help someone else in turmoil, by sharing how you dealt with a particular problem.
  • You could collaborate in the most weird and wonderful ways.

Or, you could stay in your box. Surrounded by people who only partially understand your world. The ones willing to blow smoke up your arse.

It’s your choice.