So many times in this world people are looking out for #1. They are concerned with how well they are doing, often at the expense of others. The idea that for you or your business to be doing well means that someone else must be doing badly can be seen daily just by looking around. I’d like to suggest that this mentality is detrimental, especially in a small town like ours. That rather than viciously root for your competitors to fail, that both you and they will be more successful in the long run if you choose to compliment instead of compete.
Owning and operating a small business is hard work. Owners and managers face all kinds of challenges: long hours, tight budgets, hiring and training employees, and jack-of-all-trades ownership. Often times your whole life is invested in the business, which means you wrap it up with your emotions and protect it and fight for it like you would your own child. New businesses are often seen as threats to your livelihood and the instinct is to say things like: “They must be taken down.” or “We’re better than they are.”
What people tend to forget in a small economy is that the better the overall economy, the better opportunity both individuals and individual businesses have to succeed. That’s where my motto comes in. “A rising tide lifts all boats.” You don’t have to fail for me to succeed. On the contrary, there’s room enough for us all to succeed and bring betterment to our community.
Programs like On TRAC and Main Street USA are great examples of this. They have a goal of unifying downtown businesses in joint marketing and event efforts. Programs seen in other areas like Restaurant Weeks or Taste of Our Town events, show how restaurants can partner together to show off their best features to the community. Community volunteer efforts like the United Way and the newly founded Elkins City Serve, strive to bring people together with the goal of helping those in need throughout the community.
Competition from a marketing perspective has a tendency to breed focus, creativity, improved customer service, differentiation, and creates what are sometimes unexpected partnerships. I say let’s exploit those unexpected partnerships. Find them and use them to mutual advantage. Let’s improve customer service across the board. Let’s encourage creativity. Let’s build a community that welcomes newcomers in business and then we can step back and watch the community as a whole grow.
Businesses need the community and the communities need businesses otherwise both are highly likely to become extinct. Small town business and life are symbiotic in nature. You need me and I need you, so let’s stop beating up on one another and start working together.