“Locking out” your competition

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I’ve been having some fun conversations with some people in networking groups. These networking groups often get sold to me to join their $12,000 to $24,000-something-or-other a year membership fees because it will “lock out my competition”. I’ve had the following conversation a few times:

M: “What if I don’t want to lock out my competition? What’s the point? They might suit Mark, John or Ringo and be a better client match than with me?”

T: “You’ll be seen (which is a perception & not necessarily a reality) as the Industry leader in your field, in this group.”

M: “I’m not trying to sound bigger than I actually am, however among my peers I’m already seen as an industry leader on the Internet, it’s hilarious, everybody seems to be drinking the same cool aid.”

T: “We will lock out your competitor.”

M: “Weather you lock them out or not, is really of no consequence to me I’d rather have them in the group and know what they’re doing and I might be able to help them?”

T: “…but they’re you competitors???”

M: “… and they might be really good at what they do to the level that we do it, then I have a partner I can refer work to if we get busy. Also people that aren’t in this group know how to Google, so really you’re not locking anyone out.”

The conversation then digresses to the weather while people run away in fear of me like I’ve eaten a unicorn in front of them. Let me provide a little more clarity to the situation if it isn’t clear already. Competitors, challenge me to constantly improve, they push me to be the top of my game, they motivate me when I see them take the same journey I’ve taken, they irritate the shit out of me when they lie or use fear marketing to get customers.

I overheard someone in a business meeting last week say something along the lines of “They could steal my IP, that’s why I don’t hire anyone.” to which my response in my head (which I may have said it out loud) was “Wow, way to go on having a scarcity mentality.” Not to mention lacking the trust in your own team. I trust my team implicitly, if they go off on their own to start their own business – AWESOME – at least I know the person who trained them. In fact right now I’m about to embark on the process of assisting in writing a course outline for a college who are wanting to create a bachelor degree with a strong social media component, essentially I’m creating the course that is going to create my competitors – this excites the shit out of me – why? – just think of how much that’s going to push me to innovate my business faster? or diversify into bigger things? or turn my business into a global ball of awesome??!?!?!

Eight months ago I never would have thought that I would be the kind of person to have a business with a team of 6, and aside from the fact that I feel like I’m being punished by the tax man every time I hire someone (if you’re at the stage of growth get a really good accountant who tells you how much you need to bring in for your business to build more opportunities for more people) however one of the key things that keeps me going is the recent realization that I can make my business exactly what I want it to be. I can build a business that is geared towards helping people in a single parent situation work without sacrificing more than half of their pay for a babysitter or childcare, that doesn’t just motivate me, that motivates the whole team in my business, because all of us have the same DNA, we give a shit about others.

Here’s a great blog from Michael Johnston on communication being a four way conversation he was in fact the inspiration of this blog after we had a brief chat last week reminded me the ridiculousness of statements about locking “coaches” out of a network group, Michael very astutely pointed out that everyone was a coach in the business group, just because they didn’t use the label didn’t mean that the Accountant wasn’t capable of coaching on finance, or that the Real Estate Agent wasn’t capable of coaching on buying and selling houses, in fact all of us coach others in some way shape or form, we all just have a different genius space.

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