Monday, February 23rd, 2009

All business face competition, it’s inevitable, but here at Turbo Lemon media, we find ourselves faced with and having cups of tea with our competitors. Why? A few reasons; the first is that we’re based in a business incubation unit and we’re not the only bright sparks in the North West to enjoy doing what we do enough to make it an occupation. A few of those others have, like us, benefitted from the facilities offered here: mentoring, networking, boardrooms, workspace, donuts, posh buffet. The problem is that it’s easy to feel exposed, under scrutiny and in danger of revealing too much of the company to those others.

While pitching for an Enterprise Investment Award, I raised the issue while storming through my SWOT analysis. My deft observation of “and all the other web designers present a possible threat to us” was met with the most simple and most difficult question:


Which got me thinking. Why were they potential threats? Why shouldn’t we know what each others’ businesses were up to? The thought must have lingered when I was invited to a Business Networking International (BNI) breakfast with the offer of joining a BNI chapter. During the presentation the main speaker said the beauty of BNI was the ability to “lock your competition out.” At this point, my inner-hippie winced and I began to ask myself why (again).

Yes, we should be aware of what the others are up to and it’s important to be aware of what they offer and their brand and design values. But lock them out? I think I’d sooner talk to them, understand what they do, chat about how and where they market for more business, and recognize that their clientele might differ enormously from ours. And I’d chat to them about what we’re up to too.

The Media Factory - a Northern Lights event

So why would I want to go and do something as seemingly daft as that? Well, what if somebody approached the web design company just around the corner with a request for a site that they didn’t have the expertise for. What if the company around the corner knew that this request was right up our street. Hey presto, we have a referral, and not just any referral. We’d have bona fide, built on trust referral, because we all have our reputations to uphold.

In getting to know each other, we can get to know our strengths, our niches and how to (where possible) avoid direct competition in favour of niche service or product. We can share knowledge, solve problems more quickly and pick the brains of those guys who se experience is probably invaluable.

That’s why I’m getting more involved with the Preston ICT Cluster and am helping to initiate a new network within the Northern Lights Business Incubation Unit to encourage the transparency and support that will help us all get through this credit crunch/economic downturn/recession (pick your favourite sound bite).

It makes sense to look after your ideas but in our experience, it’s good to talk.  I tweeted on twitter and straight away, our (new) friends at Creative Mixed Media suggested a brew and a chat.

Now thats progress!

Copyright 2009 Turbo Lemon Media Ltd.
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