Shortly after buying the N2 Publishing franchise for Chadds Ford, PA, I set a meeting with a very cool brand. I pitched a plan for them to be embedded in the "resident generated content" in this affluent "chateau country" and they loved it! I left the meeting elated as this partner would quickly establish credibility for my new magazine.
I called my wife and uttered the words, "...it went great, if this comes through, it's going to crush the competition."
My wife quickly retorted that she did not like the sound of that. I immediately recognized the great pride and selfish intent that had welled up in me; and I didn't like it one bit.
So began a journey to examine my heart, motives, and how my Christian faith should guide my business. I asked God for forgiveness, asked for a change of heart, and dove into the truths of Scripture, which softened my heart for others, even my competitors.
Then I actually started to pray for them and their businesses by name. As I did, I began to think about their good qualities and the reasons why a customer would want to work with them instead of me. It occurred to me that I could both grow my business and bless theirs.
I soon found myself in a negotiation with a potential customer who, when we got into the details of what they wanted, I realized my competitor was a better fit. When I mentioned this, they were surprised at the suggestion, and very thankful as well.
So I made the introduction--it felt good to do it.
A month passed and I decided to stop by to meet my competitor in person. I was warmly received. My referral had turned into a nice piece of business. Our conversation flowed as we educated each other on our strengths. I also learned that the business owner, this competitor, shared my Christian beliefs, what an eye opener!
Soon after I received an email from my competitor (who now feels more like a friend) sending me a lead. I didn't anticipate that happening!
As I thought about what had occurred, I realized that what we were doing, by being selfless and recognizing the value of the other, this was actually resulting in the best deal for the customer!
What if we all worked like that, what if we genuinely cared about people so much that we took time to know the ecosystem within which we operate our business and could guide customers to the best solution, to the best of our ability, with a desire to be a blessing.
Maybe that's radical, counter-intuitive, or even anti-Capitalist, but I believe it's Biblical. And it has worked well for my business, and given me a great peace about my dealings.
Thank God for teaching me this important lesson!