Why I Finally Started Working with the Competition
Like any industry, the world of beauty can be cutthroat, proving to be an inhospitable realm for thin-skinned business owners or people without the gift of constant innovation and creativity. When I was a baby business owner, I took this stereotype and ran with it, vowing to keep my business insights and creative ideas to myself. See, at the time, I believed every beauty company was fighting for the same shelf space and customer base, and if I shared my knowledge or asked for help, I would either be taken advantage of or shut down completely. So, I kept to myself for a long time, only consulting with my team and a few select beauty biz buddies.
Man, was I wrong, though. Over the years, I’ve come to learn that working with the “competition” is the best decision any business owner can make. Not only is there so much to be learned from others in the industry, but there is more than enough space for all of us to be successful and thrive. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” The industry is constantly changing and the products customers are looking to buy are also always in flux. With that comes the need for many new innovative ideas and creative approaches that simply can’t be conjured up by one person or company.
In the spirit of collaboration, my team and I have adopted a term into our business practices that puts all of this into perspective: “coopetition.” Coopetition is the perfect blend of cooperation and competition, and it is the very essence of what I want my interactions in the beauty industry to be—business owners helping each other succeed without thinking of each other as “the enemy.”
Here are a few reasons why it makes sense to work with your competitor, not against them.
1. Better Information
We don’t have to share our formulas or the nitty-gritty details of our product launches, but talking to each other about business operations or productivity tools gives us better information to work off of, which allows us to make more quality, informed decisions faster.
2. We’re stronger together and can advocate for one another.
Like I mentioned before, the beauty industry can be very tough to navigate. With that in mind, doesn’t it make sense to join forces with other like-minded individuals who you can bounce ideas off of? There’s no point in trying to traverse through this industry alone when there are so many other great, collaborative minds to work with.
3. New entrants from beauty giants are flooding the space.
Being able to talk to other small and medium-sized businesses allows us to better compete with larger, more established companies, like PG, Unilever, and L’Oreal, that are, in many instances, looking to remove us from the shelf. There’s no limit to what we can do when we join forces and work together.
4. History repeats itself.
Bouncing ideas off of one another or simply talking through the ups and downs of business gives new CEOs and business owners the opportunity to learn from beauty industry veterans who have been in this space for 15, 20, or 30 years. These people are better able to help us not make the same mistakes they made when they first started, and they can provide more sound, practical advice we can put to use.
5. Grow the Pie
Markets like Europe and Africa have a demand for quality US goods, but the regulatory and logistical challenges can make it hard for one company to go at it alone. When small and/or medium-sized businesses work together to meet the demands of these international markets, we can achieve better, more consistent sales and broaden our customer reach with less time and effort.
6. It feels good to collaborate, and it’s fun!
Connecting with others allows you to let go of the impossible amount of stress that comes with never-ending competition. Plus, it’s much easier to navigate the business world and maintain your sanity when you’re helping others instead of constantly feeling like your guard is up.
Although, logistically, many beauty companies are competing for the same customers, revenue, and profits, there are times when it makes sense to work with the competition instead of against them. Not everyone is out to get you or see you fail, and on the contrary, many of your business associates may be eager to share their knowledge and connect with you. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and network with like-minded individuals who also recognize the importance of collaboration. There’s more than enough space in this industry for all of our businesses to grow and thrive.
In what ways do you work with your competition?