Be careful before you put your competitors out of business

Too many people think of business as a simple win/lose situation, where for every winner there must be a loser. Gore Vidal summed up this idea when he said:

“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail”

Alan Mulally, Ford Motor CompanyAlan Mulally, the President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company, knows that the real business world isn’t this simple.

In November 2008 his greatest rivals, General Motors and Chrysler, were on the verge of bankruptcy. Mulally could have celebrated his rivals predicament and been looking forward to the extra business that would surely come Ford’s way if GM and Chrysler went bust.

Instead he went in front of the Senate Banking Committee and asked for government support for GM and Chrysler. Why would he want to save his rivals?

Mulally recognised that the situation was more complicated. As well as being competitors, Ford, GM and Chrysler also relied on each other to sustain the suppliers that all three companies shared. If either GM or Chrysler had gone bust then their suppliers would have soon followed and Ford would have been hit by either a lack of parts or a huge increase in their price.

Be careful if your goal is to crush your competitors and put them out of business, you need to consider where your businesses help each other as well as where you compete.

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