This might come as a surprise to some people, but I genuinely believe it’s in the best interests of your business to interact with, and as a result support, your competitors. At first glance, helping other businesses in the same game as you may seem counter-productive. However, working with, rather than against, your competitors is only going to be a positive experience in the long term.

Although a healthy dose of competition can be a good thing, I’ve seen businesses take this belief to the extreme, where any competition becomes the enemy. I can see how these feelings emerge as it’s only natural for a business owner or employee to become protective of the company. But, for the following reasons I encourage people to welcome their competitors:

1. Supports the industry as a whole

In order for your business to thrive, your industry needs to be flourishing as well. Supporting your competitors creates an environment in which you’re all able to boom. As the sector grows it attracts more potential customers, and as a result it generates new opportunities for you and your competitors.

With growth in the industry, there is more space for each business to expand and pave its own path to reach interesting niches. Whereas, in smaller industries, businesses tend to offer very similar products and services, eventuating in direct competitors. In the end, industry expansion helps everyone, as it creates more opportunities to differentiate between businesses. Additionally, there are times when volume or demand needs to be shared, and being on good terms with your competitors may result in them sending potential clients your way.

2. Encourages your business to be at the top of its game

Competition pushes businesses to better themselves and become industry leaders. Companies can also use competitors as benchmarks to measure their own strengths and weaknesses. In a crowded market, in order to succeed and stick out from the pack, you need to be innovative and differentiate your business from the rest. This can happen through improving whatever product or service you offer, which in turn encourages your employees to push themselves to reach personal bests as well.

3. Improves your business’s image

From an outside perspective, your business appears in a positive light if it’s seen to be interacting with competitors. No one wants to hire a company that puts down or speaks poorly of its rivals. Thus, it can only benefit your company if you’re on good terms and respect your competition. Having this attitude also builds a positive reputation for your business.

4. You never know when a competitor could turn into a colleague

With people changing jobs and moving companies numerous times throughout their careers, it’s likely that a competitor could one day become a colleague of yours. If you do find yourself in this predicament, having a positive relationship already formed is extremely beneficial to your, now joint, employer or business.

It’s important to understand that the employees and founding teams of your competitors are probably just as smart, savvy and amazing as you and your team are, and you might have a lot more in common that you realise. Forming longstanding relationships with your competitors is only going to beneficial for you and your business.