This weekend was a hive of small business activity in Canberra, with the Ultimate Women’s Expo hitting Canberra, in addition to the Etsy Market, Pialligo Estate Farm Gate Market and our lovely neighbour Queanbeyan’s Christmas in July Market.
These events always remind me how wonderful our business community here in Canberra (and across the surrounding regions) is. They have real and friendly conversations designed to lift each other up, and they often recommend would-be competitors if their wears don’t quite suit the customer they have in front of them.
There's always enough wine to go around, that's why the Pop Inn collaborate with businesses and events across the region.
With their words framed for collaboration, not competition, each small business can have its own success at these events—much more success than can occur when customers hear businesses in competitive mode, turning most people off and creating a negative vibe.
While I was humbled and proud of the collaborative behaviour my business friends and others showed at these events, unfortunately, in my weekend event hoping, I still overheard words of competition, which always puts a small downer on the event when it’s overheard.
The collaborative Mums's Exercise Group directors at the Ultimate Women's Expo.
In a world full of harsh words and sharp tongues, we can sometimes become immune to the ‘bitching’ we overhear. Sometimes I wish I was immune, but while I can rise above it, it still makes me sad that some small business owners are looking to compete unfairly with their peers, rather that look to support them and let the collaboration and support circuit help them gain more business.
Words like ‘their products are crap, ours are much better’ or ‘they’re new, we’re much better because we’ve been around longer’ or ‘we’re so much cheaper’ do not create a fair playground. As a business owner, these phrases are petty and not relevant. If you want to sell your product and services, spruik the awesome-ness of your product and use it to gain customers. Don’t put someone else and their products or services down thinking this is good promotion.
You don't have to have the same eggs in one basket.
Words matter and the more we concentrate on using them to promote the positives of ourselves and our business, and to build people up and not tear them down, the more power these words have to give you success in business and create a positive community.
Think before you speak and collaborate rather than compete. I promise you will feel better at the end of the day and your business profits may even rise.
Are you a business owner who values collaboration over competition? I’d love to hear what this attitude and your words of support, not mean-ness, have meant for your business.
Sheena is that girl who always has a smile on her face, she loves life and the diversity within. After a lightbulb went off when she hit 30, Sheena’s ‘f*** it 30 approach to life allowed her to embrace who she is and help others to do the same, free of judgement.
Her communications business, Specialists in Communications, encourages everyone and every business to use their uniqueness as a point of difference, as a positive that helps them connect with people.
Sheena is also founder and editor of The Local Look, an e-magazine and blog showcasing Canberra business by telling the stories of the people behind the brands. Storytelling has the power to really connect with people and through it, we can encourage people and influence change for the better.