September 2007 Archive

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September 30, 2007

Does business have to be dog-eat-dog?

@ 12:31 PM

Since I left my job back in April to pursue my own business interests I've been on something of a rollercoaster ride of discovery. I've had the good fortune to work with some very talented, knowledgable and committed people and to be challenged by the work I've been hired to do. On the whole it's been more interesting, rewarding and fun than I could have imagined.

Afew weeks ago something happened that made me stop and question why I'm in business and whether I've got what it takes to succeed in business in the long run.

I'm doing some work as a technical advisor for a company, let's call them company A, that produces a piece of software that aids accessibility on the web. Everyone I've dealt with at the company is committed, friendly and knowledgable, and they have a great, successful product. It's the sort of company I hope Champion IS might become in time - always looking for ways to improve the user experience and focussed on their product and their clients.

So when their closest competitor (let's call them company X) started mailing company A's clients with aggressive and pernicious marketing, trashing company A's product with false claims and promoting their own product, I was appalled. It shouldn't have been entirely surprising - company X has a history of dodgy marketing, and has a poor reputation in certain circles - but the two companies are market leaders and have very little other opposition in their sector.

I don't want to go into any detail about the content of that marketing, or what company A will or should do in response, but instead want to consider what it says about company X and whether my reaction was a symptom of naivety. Here are some questions:

  1. To be successful in business do you have to attack the opposition?
  2. Is it naive to think that producing high quality work and maintaining high quality customer service are enough to survive if not thrive in business?
  3. How would you respond if you were company A?

Feel free to guess the companies' identities, but don't expect me to validate them. :-)