By Orsi Parkanyi, published in Shoestring Startups on October 3, 2012
When I explain the concept behind the Women As Entrepreneurs movement to people who hear about it for the very first time, I often encounter the question – especially from the men –as “How is it possible for women entrepreneurs to support one another when they are… well…sort of competitors, aren’t they?”
It is a valid point, however, interestingly enough, doesn’t really stand strong in reality. Not sure about any other women’s networks, but within the WE community, I mostly see women collaborating rather than competing. Moreover, one major reason women join the community in the first place is to find opportunities to collaborate! Some businesses often partner up with complimentary companies if they target a similar demographic, some smart women in the same industry decide to collaborate and refer clients to one another, rather than ignore each other.
Over our first year of operation, Women As Entrepreneurs have created many amazing and inspiring stories of WE members collaborating online and offline to form Joint Ventures and create added value to customers. These women tell me that they benefit socially, emotionally, spiritually and also financially by joining forces and forming strategic partnerships, rather than spending their time, money and energy on “winning” the race and kill competition.
Below I collected the top 3 reasons why I think women entrepreneurs should collaborate, rather than compete:
1. Women have a natural gift to empower others
Women naturally enjoy supporting, nurturing and helping others, even in situations when it might not make “business sense” to other people. It gives us great satisfaction to provide someone with a good idea or great piece of advice, and to see someone flourish under our “mentoring”. Just because we are in a “business setting” there is no reason to deny our feminie-side and throw our principles and values out of the window! Empowering others, even if they happen to be in the same industry, is always rewarding and only makes us better (business) people. I truly believe that this amazing ability to collaborate and look after others will help us succeed even more in this new paradigm of business, where authenticity will be more and more crucial.
2. There is enough business out there for all of us
I know it is a cliché, but women, especially small business women recognise more and more that there is enough money and business out there for all of us. We are all unique in our very own ways, and we all have our very own nieche and want to attract the right customers! Your customers most likely do business with you because they like you, and there is no point to focus your precious energy on those who are not keen on your services and rather buy from someone else. You want to surround yourself with beautiful, positive energy that attracts people, so instead of stalking your competition 24/7, stay authentic, believe in yourself and let your customers become your raving fans and your most valuable PR and marketing sources!
3. Competition is good. Cooperation with your competition is even better!
Competition encourages us to keep working harder and get the most out of ourselves. Let’s be honest, without competition, we would lack the motivation to constantly improve and grow. Sometimes, cooperation with your competition is something worth considering and can be the best way to boost your business and presence in the market. Be mindful of the risks though, collaborate with businesses whose values are aligned with yours and make sure all parties have a win-win approach. If managed the right way, these partnerships can be extremely beneficial, add volume to your business and value to your customers.