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Business buzz . . . The Business Hive director Cara Tipping-Smith. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Business is supposed to be competitive, right? You must be better than the competition and win the most sales.

Back when I worked in recruitment, we had sales days that were like sugar-hyped children’s parties.

Imagine, the whole team competitive cold calling; make a cold call (yeah), book an appointment (whoop), pop a balloon (yeeha), win a prize (voucher for Asti Spumante – score) and repeat.

It was chaotic hell and I hated it.

Nothing says “I’m a professional” during a cold call like some woman screaming in the background. Not.

But that was how the business was done.

Doesn’t make it right.

A few decades on, I’ve learned a lot. Like the benefits of collaboration and trusted competitors.

Funnily enough, the seed was planted in those recruiting days when the company I worked for and a major competitor merged.

Management was worried about the two top billers – strong minded, capable women who’d been direct competitors with overlapping client portfolios which were now to be divvied up between them.

Meetings were held.

Concerns were discussed.

Ah, I can still remember their pinched faces.

She and I went for a drink. We shared insights about our (formerly) shared clients. We laughed our heads off about the drama everyone was expecting.

In short, we naturally fell into line with each other because we had something our bosses hadn’t factored in – mutual respect.

Our collaboration made us both better off (and our bosses happy).

It was a lesson for life.

Since then, in every role, collaboration has produced far better results than I could on my own.

Equally, I came to rely on trusted competitors. These were the people I could direct clients to whenever I didn’t have capacity, the right solution or simply didn’t want to take on that job.

They allowed me to work in my sweet spot, develop my niche and build far more profitable and loyal client bases.

That’s why when there was a call for Oamaru retailers to work together, we offered to host a meeting at The Business Hive.

Back in recruiting days, it took just a little initiative and a very short time for my colleague and I to figure things out.

If we’d waited for someone else to take the lead, we might have had a different outcome.

So, when it comes to competition or collaboration, I say both. And retailers, whatever it takes – we’ll support you.

Cara Tipping Smith is the director of The Business Hive.