The scariest investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank” has an equally menacing way of dealing with the people he’s competing with — he wines and dines them.
“What I tell my CEOs is: Call up your competitor and take them out for dinner. Start there. It’s the most important thing you can do. Find out who you are doing battle with every day and form a relationship with them. You are defining your own industry when you do that … even in small companies. Twenty percent of your day should be spent understanding your competitors and your market, not in the minutiae of operations. Stay focused on the big goal … and network with absolutely everyone who matters to you.”
This of course relates back to a saying from the ancient master of war himself, Sun Tzu:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
If you want to excel in any industry, you have to know your competition — but not just what they are working on and producing. You have to be crazy enough to ask them out to dinner and understand how that person, who is potentially trying to put you out of business, thinks. Your bold move will command respect and may even take them by surprise, giving you the advantage. It’s probably the last thing your competitor expects, and you never know how your relationship will develop — but one way to get rid of the competition is make them your ally.
Do you have the balls to wine and dine your greatest business adversary?