People sometimes come to Dr. Misner and ask about how to deal with competitors. His philosophy is best summed up by Henry Ford: “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”
Everyone has competition, but it’s a waste of time to focus on it. Just go on making your own business the best.
Some people think this philosophy contradicts BNI’s policy of having only one member per profession in a BNI group, but it’s not an either-or scenario. BNI is supposed to be a safe environment where people can share openly, and that’s not likely to happen if a direct competitor is sitting next to you and taking notes.
When you encounter a competitor, look for opportunities to collaborate rather than competing. It will make both of you more successful. An example: Priscilla’s BNI group, No Ordinary Chapter, is a member of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.
Read Dr. Misner’s blog post about competition on Entrepreneur.com.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 166 –
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables.
I’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California, and I’m joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.
Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
Well, I just got back from South Africa, where I did the BNI Conference, the BNI South African Conference. Some incredible members there, great event, and it’s always a pleasure. I’ve been traveling a lot over the summer. It’s always a pleasure meeting members all around the world, so if you’re listening to this podcast and I’m ever in your region a presentation, come to the event, introduce yourself to me, I’d love to meet BNI members. To me, that’s the best part of the event is meeting all the BNI people.
Just got back from South Africa.
Great! Well, what is this topic on competition?
Well, I’m doing this for a couple for a couple of reasons. One is that sometimes ask me questions about how to deal with competitors. I’m doing it because my very own BNI director has come to me and said, “Hey, there’s this other networking organization out there, and they’re saying bad things about BNI. How should we respond to it?” And so I did a blog on the topic, got a lot of responses, and I thought it would make a good podcast.
My philosophy about competition is best summed up by Henry Ford who once said, “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” I love that quote. “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”
In BNI, members or directors will often express concern some about other competitive groups that are forming and bad mouthing our company or attacking our program in some way. And I tell them what I would tell you as members in terms of competitors to your own businesses. I tell my team that if they feel like someone is biting at our backsides, it’s because we’re out in front.
Success in business is about constantly improving your product or your service and making it better all the time. And the process is a journey, not a destination, however, if you are constantly working to improve your business, improve your systems, improve the product, improve the culture, improve the team, the people who are in your organization, if you do these things, you’ll also improve your position in the marketplace.
Almost ten years ago, I had a particularly aggressive competitor publicly state that he was going to bury our organization, he was going to bury BNI. And I’ve got a competitor like that right now who’s saying horrible, very vitriolic things.
Well, that competitor from ten years ago, since then, BNI has grown almost 400 percent since he came into the market, and it’s interesting, because I haven’t heard about his company for years, haven’t heard about it for years; they’ve disappeared. I’m not even sure whether they’re still in business or not. I really think that Ford got it right, keep making your business better, and you’ll have no need to fear your competitors. Your business will be the one that your competitors fear the most.
And that’s my philosophy on competition, and I think it’s very timely within my organization to share it, and I hope it’s a value to BNI members, because everybody’s got competition.
There is no business without competition.
Well, I think you’re right, and you have to create – if you do what you just suggested, you create very loyal customers. And then they keep coming back to you, because you did such a good job.
And you know it’s easy, especially if you’re talking about an organization like BNI where people participate and they go to meetings. It’s easy to get into this sort of online shouting match. “Oh, yeah, well, then this about you!” And then you shout back. And that’s really wasted time. To me, time is much better spent focusing on improving the product, improving the service, improving the delivery. And the more you can focus on improvements and education and training, then competition becomes irrelevant.
Um-hmm. And then you also created an organization that doesn’t have any competition within itself.
Yeah, that’s true, and I think that sometimes people may – they’ve heard me talk about my philosophy and competition, and they see it as a contradiction because I created an organization that has only one person per profession.
And I don’t view my philosophy in competition as being an either-or situation. BNI was sort of a safe haven for people to be able to talk about their business. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe there’s competition out there; there’s competition out there in any business, and so it’s not that I’m saying avoid interaction at all with competition. As a matter of fact, I think in some ways, there are some competitors, there are some people that you might potentially view as competitors who you can actually collaborate with. But let me come back to that thought.
To me, it’s not an either-or scenario. I created BNI to provide a safe haven for businesses where they could talk openly, somebody could share openly their marketing techniques, their questions, their problems, who they’re looking for as a client and not have to worry about their competition sitting right there listening, taking notes.
And it just makes it a safe environment, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize competition out there, and there is! And my philosophy in dealing with them is to just improve your own product or service rather than get into a head butting match with the competition.
And also, and I didn’t talk about this in my blog, look for opportunities to collaborate, if it’s at all possible. I remember when BNI first started, so many Chambers of Commerce thought we were competitors. And from a big picture perspective, you might look at BNI and Chambers and say, “Well, they are kind of competitors. They both talk about networking and they’re both organizations.” And you can find ways that we do, in fact, compete.
But I view groups like Chambers as compatible to BNI, not competitive, and I recommend my members go out and participate in a local Chamber of Commerce. And so whenever possible, if you can find someone who, yeah, there might be a little bit of competition between, but if you could find areas to collaborate rather than compete, then you’re both much stronger. I think today BNI has really great relationships with many Chambers of Commerce, and that’s a testament to trying to find opportunities rather than – it’s really a testament to a law of abundance rather than a law of scarcity approach to doing business.
So when you can, find opportunities. Otherwise, somebody’s out there and they’re gunning for you. Focus on your products and services and improving it.
I just want to say one thing about the Chamber of Commerce. Our BNI group, as a group, is a member of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. Our actual group, No Ordinary Chapter, is a member.
I love that idea. And we did it, I think, by the second or third year of BNI, we were recommending the chapters join a local Chamber as a group. And some Chambers are receptive to that and some aren’t, and the Chambers that are really all about collaboration have no problems with it, and I think everybody ends up, I believe, benefiting.
One of the things I recommend in BNI and in The Referral Institute, listeners know I am also the senior partner for The Referral Institute, is that the people who run The Referral Institute programs or BNI programs offer to your local Chamber to be an ambassador, to even train – one of the things I really recommend, train the Ten Commandments of Networking to your Chamber of Commerce. Teach the ambassadors about the Ten Commandments. Now that’s a way to really collaborate with the Chamber.
On a different subject with competition, but I think an important one, as it applies to BNI.
But just to wrap up, Priscilla, Ford’s quote, I think, is a thing of beauty. “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” That’s my philosophy about competition. I believe it works; based on results, it kind of works. BNI is, by far, the world’s largest, most successful networking organization, and, I think to some extent, it is because we constantly look to provide better training, more training, more material, better material, systems, and programs that are just better than what everybody else has out there, and that’s why people are drawn to our organization. So when people are biting at our backsides, it’s because we’re out in front.
That’s great, Ivan. Well, thank you.
I think that might be it for this week. I think we’re out of time.
Yes, thanks, Priscilla.
I’s just like to remind you, the listeners, that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.