My Competition Turned Into My Business Partner
We live in a competitive world. And we are taught to compete at a young age. This isn’t something that we grow out of. One of the most vital lessons that I teach photographers is that other photographers are not the enemy. In fact, they could become source of income for you. Not to mention someone who completely understands what your life is like.
In 2013, I learned I was moving to Kigali, Rwanda. A fellow photographer recommended that I get in contact with a photographer on the ground, Laura Pohl. I reached out via email immediately. Laura and I must have exchanged over a dozen emails over the span of a few months. We talked about everything from business pricing to what you could purchase in the local grocery stores. By the time we met in person, I felt I had found a close friend. What I didn’t know is that Laura would be responsible for much of my success in Rwanda.
Laura is in my exact niche of photography. Our primary clients are nonprofits. We are similarly priced. We have competed for clients and yet we see each other as allies. It’s a simple solution when you think about it. As solopreneurs, we only have 365 days in a year and sometimes we just can’t take a gig. So who are we going to pass the work we can’t take to? The person we know, trust, and like.
Laura has passed lots of work my way. We’ve partnered on multiple projects and pitched work to media. We taught a photography business workshop together. My knowledge of business and video production grew exponentially because she was willing to teach me what she knew and vice versa. She is the first person I call when I am struggling with a tough quote.
We work so well together that we decided that we needed to take our in person workshop viral and share the knowledge that we’ve shared with each other with other people at NGO Storytelling. My direct competition became my business partner.
The moral of this story is that you never know where collaborative relationships can take you. So the next time you have an opportunity to get to know someone doing the same work as you– don’t look at them as the competition. They are an asset to your business and they may even become your friend.