I try to go for a walk at around 7.20am every morning (one of my New Year resolutions!).  With the onset of Spring, the birds are becoming increasingly vocal at that time of day, and I’ve noticed Robins and Blackbirds are trying to out-sing their competition in order to gain territory. I love it, there’s hardly anyone around and birdsong is all I can hear.

Birds fighting for territory remind me of how I naively assumed owning a business would be.  You’re looking out for yourself, fending off competition,  trying to hold onto existing clients and all whilst whistling a sweet song to attract new clients (okay maybe not the whistling :)).

When I first started going to networking meetings I found it a bit odd that people from the same industry were being friendly to each other & helping each other out.   Part of me thought how nice that business rivals get along so well, however the  suspicious side of me then thought maybe they were being cunning and spying on their competition!  Surely you shouldn’t be talking to your competitor let alone advising them on their problems!

Of course I now know better 🙂

I wasn’t actually in business before the dreaded “R” word hit so I don’t know how competitive people were then, I’m sure some businesses were very “cloak & dagger” when it came to networking!  I think with all the doom & gloom that has descended on the country over the past couple of years, business people/owners are all pulling together.  We are all in the same position – we’re all trying to make our businesses succeed and grow.  Instead of competing against each other, we’re offering advice and support to each other, no matter what business  / industry they’re in.

Before I set up as a Virtual Assistant, I researched the idea for months and months, going onto forums, and other VA websites, and I was astonished at how open and honest everyone was.  There were 2 forums which I found invaluable:-

The Society of Virtual Assistants is a forum dedicated to VA’s.  It was great to know other newbies were facing the same challenges I was and that the more experienced VA’s on the forum gave honest advice… what worked for them… what to avoid etc.  We’re still all in competition with each other but there is an unspoken trust between us all which I find very refreshing.

The second one is Irish Business Women. Okay, so I’m not Irish (but I’m a business woman so two thirds there!), this forum gives great advice and support to business owners in Ireland – I’m not as active on it as I would like (another failed NY resolution), but I try to visit it every day to see if I can offer help to anyone.

Even at my regular local networking meetings, I’m not the only admin support business.  There is also a lovely lady who I would have no problem in recommending if I couldn’t carry out a task.  I would hope that she’d do the same.  It’s all about trust and a bit of give & take.

Maybe I’m being a bit too naive and trusting, after all we are all still trying to earn a living, but all I know is that without the support, advice and help from other business owners on forums, breakfast meetings and social media I probably would still be working for someone else in a job I don’t like & moaning about it! 🙂

I’d be interested to hear what you think.  As a business owner, has the recession changed your mindset when it comes to your competitors, or has rivalry between businesses always been this open and friendly?