Friday, August 12, 2016

Why Blocking Competition is a Bad Business Strategy

I own a magazine that is focused on promoting independent business and entrepreneurship, a shoe store bearing the name of 29 year old brand that is undergoing reinvention, and a consulting business that helps businesses plan and develop strategies to be successful. I am also a yoga teacher, so what I am about to say comes from my general world view that it's better to be collaborative.

I seek out the people who are making things happen. I am interested in who they are, their outlook on life and business, and what they focus on.  Through each of these lenses, I have learned what it takes to be successful in the market place, more often than not.

  1. Successful people focus on their own ball. They have a vision, and everything they do is about bringing that vision to life.  
  2. They live and work with good intention.  Not bad.  Good intentions lead to good things, while bad intentions do too.
  3. Successful people stay competitively strong by understanding their customer and responding quickly and eloquently.  
  4. Successful people are not afraid, but they are not ill informed either. They take measured risks - which means they risk only what they can afford to lose. 
  5. Successful people engage with other successful people. They make friends and build a community of like minded people around them, because they know that word travels fast, and you need to know who you can trust and who you shouldn't.  

All of this flies in the face of something that I am seeing in the market place. Blocking.

Yesterday, I was told that a health and wellness business had the right to exclude anyone else from teaching yoga in the area.  To that I replied, "they can't own yoga. Yoga is older than life." And what if the yoga sucks in this place? So that means no one gets to teach or practice yoga because it will eventually die.  This attempt to eliminate competition or potential product competition through real estate lease transactions is counter to free enterprise thinking.

Blocking other business will not assure your success. Here's why.
  1. There is a good chance that you can't be all things to all people.  As in the case of yoga, finding the right yoga teacher is a very personal endeavour, just as it is finding a pair of jeans or a buying a car or finding a hair stylist.  If there is no other option, people will vote with their feet and likely never return to the area, or your business, if there isn't another option in the vicinity. 
  2.  Blocking other businesses is not goal of business. Gaining new customers, serving them well and making it easier for them to buy your product or service is.  And it takes traffic to bring customers. You want to be where others are going.  Why are their multiple car lots clustered together?  Because they know that when someone is shopping for a car, the chance of closing a sale is higher if the customer stays in the area.
  3. Blocking is not differentiating.  Blocking is a defensive move. Not an offensive one.  Have a vision.  A story of who you are. Understand your customer and who he or she is, how they want to be treated, and then develop the people, systems, environment and processes to wow them. 
  4. Blocking will alienate you from others.  And that's a lonely and dangerous place to be in a free enterprise market.  My personal feeling is that is will lead to failure.  On some level. Definitely.