Who is smarter the city mouse, the country mouse or the mouse from the suburbs?
I was talking to a colleague the other day. While we were chatting I mentioned a company that had contacted me with an offer to do a joint promotion. My business associate flipped out and went into a twenty minute diatribe about this company.
He explained how they had contacted him on several occasions. This "other" company was extremely inquisitive asking more questions than inquirying minds need to know.
My colleague, a bit uncomfortable with the line of questioning, joking replied to the individual on the phone, "Are you asking all these questions because you want to do business with me, or are you a competitor fishing for information?"
This seemingly friendly caller became quite enraged at that point, realizing that he was now on the spot. His reponse was littered with expletives too indecent to repeat. He also told my associate that he was going to put him out of business and abruptly hung up the phone.
My business associate went on to explain how the "other" company stole his ideas. They took his product line and reproduced it, in a cheaper format and for a cheaper price. Not only were they marketing their product to all of his customers they were also solicting his business associates making deals for endorsements.
I realized that he was annoyed with me as well. I did not realize the similarities in the product lines until he pointed them out to me. I tried to defend my position explaining that the "other" company was very nice, very persistent and extremely accomodating. He made it clear to me why they were so eager to work with me. He also made it clear that if I proceeded with a business relationship with them, this would cause a rift in our working relationship. I told him I would see what I could do about getting out of the arrangement.
It took me a few days to realize the effect my doing business with this "other" company would have on our existing relationship, as well as the impact it might have on his business. My affiliation would not only be an endorsement of the other product, but would establish an association, making the products even more similar in the mind of the consumer.
So, I asked myself what was more important? The yet to be determined benefit of doing business with this new company or the value of the existing relationship with my associate? I decided on the latter.
I took a bite of the humble pie and called my colleague to apologize. He was extremely relieved and grateful that I was of like mind, with regard to business ethics. We had a long conversation after that discussing how difficult it was to run a business on Long Island.
It takes years to establish your brand, build your reputation and keep your customers happy. Business typically runs in cycles based on the economy. Some years good, some years not so good, some years are great. If you manage to keep your head above water and adapt to the changes you are ahead of the game. To add to the challenge there is almost always competition.
Competition is the cornerstone of the American way of life. Driving the price of goods down and leveling out the playing field of the supply and demand that drives our ecomomy. So, why is it that Long Island competitors plays so unfairly? I have seen first hand how companies sprout up overnight. Their entire business based on stealing ideas from their competitors and calling them their own. Is this what happens across the country, across the globe or just here on Long Island?
Maybe it is the whole mentally of living on Long Island. The Long Island mouse thinks he is smarter than the city mouse and the country mouse. We enjoy the perks of living close to the city, but not as far as the country. Yes, for some this is the ideal place to live if you can afford it. For others the high cost of living is driving some mice to the country. And several mice are stealing the cheese - to get by, just to have more cheese than everyone else or just because they think they are the smartest mouse?
I think the smartest mouse takes pride in making his own cheese, lives where it is most comfortable and stays away from the copy cat!
Thanks for reading my rantings.