There’s been a thought brewing in the back of my mind for a couple years now, and after reading Give Back, It’s our Responsibility, Opportunity just a few weeks ago, I felt compelled to write about it.
I’m talking about collaboration over competition, that we’re all in it together.
More specifically it was the final sentence of the article it that really got me going.
Let’s be an example of collaboration, not just competition.
Though it was John reflecting on his time growing as an entrepreneur and the impact of something said to him, I strongly believe that it applies to anyone who operates in an educational, or helping others, space — though I daresay pharmaceutical giants would beg to differ.
So if helping others is your jam, you need to remember something: we’re all in it together.
In the last four to five years, I’ve had the pleasure of working at places like Envato’s Tuts+, SitePoint, and more recently with Site5 via Yin and YangPress, all on educationally focused content networks.
Additionally, about nine months ago I started my own site that’s for people, like me, who eat a very, very niche diet – there was a need and I wanted to help others like me.
In short; four years, 16 sites, and about the same number of topics, all with the same mission: to teach and help others.
Helping people learn and earn online. – Envato’s motto
But what’s been the one constant through all of this? Companies are not that willing to help each other, let alone themselves in some instances.
Business is Business
The simple truth is that a business must make money in order to survive. If not, there’s only so much debt one can accumulate before the banks come knocking on the door and it’s game over.
And it doesn’t matter what your model is, advertising, product marketing, whatever; if you’re doing it through content, it’s not going to be the cheapest short term option. It does mean that, to be successful, you need to keep people on your site, consuming your content.
Considering this, what it most often means is that sites are restricted, prohibited, or stupidly reluctant from mentioning or linking out to other sites and resources.
It’s extremely unlikely that your operation can be the single to go to place for someone to learn, especially as people learn in different ways – just ask yourself, did you learn WordPress development from one site, book, or course? I doubt it.
The net result is that many operations wind up being completely insular. Profit is all that matters, not providing the best service to their audience, and therefore, potential customers. Think about it, how many companies do you go back to even if they don’t provide the best service? Aside from telecommunication giants that is.
I feel it ultimately comes down to the values and motives of the person calling the shots.
Where Does that Leave Us?
If you’re still reading then you probably think I’m crazy, and I probably am, but if you haven’t had quite so much exposure it’s hard to miss. This leaves us in an awkward place, where everyone is trying to get their slice of the pie an someone else’s, and one for the road.
Thing is, the WordPress pie is pretty damn big, there’s no need for greed.
Many operations want to be the be all and end all within their space, and frankly, I don’t believe this is possible.
What Can Be Done About It?
I wish I had a more solid answer, but it ultimately varies situation to situation. Don’t be afraid to link, tweet, or recommend your ‘competitors’ as, if it helps your users achieve their goals, then you’ve fulfilled their needs, you have served them as they need, and they’ll remember you for it.
Just remember, we’re all in it together, and we need to help each other. In short,
Today you, tomorrow me.
Take care my friends!
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