When Your Competition – Isn’t

(Updated February 2017)

Recently we relaunched one of our APHA networking benefits, Special Interest Groups (SIGs). They provide members with the opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals to discuss any topic relevant to their work. For example, all members who live in Idaho might want to connect with each other. Or those who offer mental health advocacy services can share ideas. Others with interest in working strictly with seniors, or all our physician members, or even a group of Stanford grads (yes we have a handful!) SIGs help us connect with those who share our interests and experiences.

One group, the Medical Billing and Claims SIG, does very well, sharing information online in its forum, and through monthly phone calls.

But other SIGs just never get very far.

Shortly after the relaunch, two members suggested that one reason this networking benefit struggles is because members are afraid to share information with their competition.

Say, what?

Uh-oh. We need a serious business lesson about the real nature of “competition.” To fret about competition is actually quite a beginner mistake. So let’s see what we can learn:

1. At this early stage in the growth of our profession, competition would require us to be close in proximity to each other, providing identical services to our clients. Unless you are a medical billing advocate (which doesn’t require proximity – medical billing and claims advocates can help someone in any part of the US) – or – unless you have another advocate in your neighborhood who offers exactly the same services as you do, then you don’t have a competitor who can negatively influence your business. There are, maybe, 200 successfully practicing advocates in the world – and that’s all. We won’t need to worry about competition until that number looks more like 20,000. (Or, put another way – see how many lawyers are practicing successfully in your town, offering the same services, and when you have that many advocates in your town, THEN you can worry about whether they are competition!)

2. The more successful advocates we have – anywhere – the more readily the general public, and therefore our potential clients, will understand what we do, how they can benefit from working with us, and why they should hire us – and they will. In Starting a New Business 101, I learned that “Mr. Grant always parks next door to Mr. Woolworth.” (OK – so I took that course in the 70s!) Just like you choose to go to the mall to buy shoes (because you have so many shoe stores to choose from), it’s always good to have others successfully offering the same services as you because the more there are, the more people tend to buy-in. The rising tide does float all boats! Therefore, rather than looking at others as competition, instead look at them as one of your best marketing strategies.

3. Don’t make assumptions about others doing advocacy work without learning about their work. Just because two people call themselves advocates doesn’t mean they are providing the same services! Instead, there’s an excellent chance that your practices are complementary, not competitive at all – they are potentially co-opetition – and you can help each other. Colleagues – not competition.

4. Flattery will get you everywhere. Your clients and potential clients want to know they are getting the best services for their needs. When you know you are not the best person to provide a service (which, by the way, is part of our Code and Standards) then referring to your co-opetition is good for the client, good for your colleague, and reflects extremely well on you. Your honesty, their esteem of you, and their word of mouth about you, will be heightened.

I could go on and on… but the point is…. networking is an easy and “free” way to learn and grow. Whether it’s thru SIGs, attending workshops or conferences, inviting another local advocate to meet for coffee, the APHA Connect! Discussion Forum – no matter how you do it – take advantage in every way you can of opportunities to connect with others working in our professional space.

NONE of us will ever succeed in isolation! Sharing and communication will move your practice forward. Make a connection with other advocates today!

Learn more about competition:

When Is Potential Competition the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Your Business?

The Health Advocates’ Olympics

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Share your experience, join the conversation!


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 thought on “When Your Competition – Isn’t”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

APHA Blog : The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates
Scroll to Top