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Have you ever heard of the term – CO-OPetition? 

Before I define what this is, allow me to share a personal story with you.  Back about 10 years ago, when I was starting to get my Calgary-based IT services organization IT Matters up and running, we needed business in a hurry.  After all, Rob, Tony and I had departed ServIS, another Calgary IT firm, to launch our team and provide top grade IT services to businesses in Alberta.

Where would we get leads and opportunities?

I knew that forming strategic alliances in the Calgary market was essential to our success.  We partnered with everyone, every business that served the same market that we did.  We went for coffee, attended business luncheons and even our Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours events were prime breeding grounds for partnering with others who all went after the same market that we did.

We partnered with other IT firms that went after the same clients but had different skills sets.  We had things they needed and vice versa.  It was a marriage made in heaven most of the time, as long as we all understood the rules of engagement:  Don’t screw with my clients, and I won’t mess around with yours.  Pretty simple, eh?

I knew I was on the right track when I saw revenues coming in from strategic partner opportunities and leads.  It was awesome.  Partners from down the street to across the country fed us opportunity after opportunity.  So, why would any MSP question the effectiveness of forming strategic alliances, even with so-called competitors?

It frustrates me to see or encounter those who simply cannot see the forest for the trees.  My friends Erik and Lyf, who each heads his own IT firm, understood the concept of co-opetition. For several years now, they have put on a joint venture event called Tech Pulse that is held every year in Minneapolis. I can’t remember how many years they have been doing it now, but it works because the rules are set, and they trust each other.

Here is my challenge:  Forget about seeing those in the same space as you as competitors. Think of them as allies.  Know that many won’t get it, and that is OK.  If they won’t play your game, find others who will.

My friend Paul Moffatt at DCTel in Langley, BC could have been viewed as a competitor at one time, but he now is one of my best friends and someone I speak with regularly about business.  He has helped me, and I have helped him.

Stop being fearful of others and figure out ways that you can work with them.  Invite them to your events. Share openly with them, and together you will achieve more.  Remember the meaning of the word TEAM. Together EVERYONE achieves more.

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