When you start out in business, you will hopefully be full of confidence that it is going to work. In any case, you tell yourself, you will give it a go. Whether you succeed or fail will be down to you – but regardless of the results, the business will stand or fall on its own merits. If it doesn’t work out? Well, you gave it a go – but maybe your best wasn’t good enough.
All of this confidence and realism is based on the idea that the world of business is self-balancing. That you are on a level playing field from Day One. However, the reality is that business is not always so straightforward. As much as we want to believe it is – because if some factors are beyond our control, what is the point of even trying? – the reality is different.
To put it another way, for a business to succeed entirely – to win – another business has to lose. And there are always going to be people out there who don’t take defeat in their stride. So when your business is in its infancy, you don’t just have to take account of market forces. You may have to be on the lookout for the kind of people who will look to harm your business, and they can take many shapes.
#1. Your Competitors – Will They Always Play Fair?
Unless your business is one which is completely unique, you will always have competitors. And the thing about competitors is that they have something you want, and vice versa. Every business within an industry has its market share and wants that share to be bigger. When you are looking to grow your share, so are they – so your success is not in their best interest.
This can lead to healthy competition – seeking to develop products and services that are the best on the market. Trying to offer the fairest prices to customers while still being able to make a decent profit. Two businesses, both playing fair, will have their battles, and the one that loses will learn from its mistakes. But what if your competitor isn’t too concerned with fairness?
There are many stories about companies who found ways to steal customers from their competitors. Companies who made up untrue rumors about another company in the same field to make themselves look better. It is worth regularly searching for your business name on search engines and social media to see what people are saying about it. If you find lies on there, chances are they are from competitor companies. Seek them out and put them right.
#2. Content Thieves: Are Other Companies Using You As A Shortcut?
Copyright law exists as a way of protecting your content from unfair use by other people and businesses. When you have worked hard on creating a website, to see your content used by others is frustrating. Sometimes it will be an entire blog post, or infographic, word for word. Often, it will be hard to trace the source of the theft.
This is why it is important to be in touch with a skilled DMCA takedown service. Where your hard work is being used by others to get a comfortable ride, you have rights. It is important to keep track of your site traffic and your income from different sources. If you notice anomalies within those, investigate further. It could be that someone is jacking your content.
A well run takedown service will not only find and deindex the people stealing your intellectual property. It will flat-out take down the stolen information and, if needs be, take legal action on your behalf. Not only that, they will be on hand with helpful advice to prevent it from happening again.
#3. Former Employees Or Partners: A Rogue Element?
Every business has its disgruntled former employees. In some way, you are probably one of them. Come on, have you honestly loved every job you ever did? Never once thought about revenge against an employer who caused you stress? If you have and had perfect relationships with all your former employers, well done to you and them. But you’re in the minority.
When you are the employer in this situation – or a former business partner – there is always a risk of discord. There is always the possibility that another person, who views you as being to blame for something going wrong, will want to see you fail.
The three words “disgruntled former employee” can cover a broad range of meaning. For many people, the most notable use tends to come when an angry former co-worker returns to the workplace to take revenge. It commonly crops up on the news in the case of workplace shootings. But obviously, only a tiny fraction of such employees will do something like this.
More likely, their grudge will be played out in the form of bad-mouthing you either generally or in a targeted way. A whispering campaign to potential trade partners, or social media harassment, are common ways that this plays out. They may also come back at you with a lawsuit. It may be for unfair dismissal, loss of earnings or intellectual property. Either way, they will feel you owe them.
To avoid this happening, it is wise always to ensure that you are covered when making decisions to let employees go. If you dissolve a business partnership, do it in a civil way. Make sure the division of business assets and intellectual property is clear and final. Do everything you can to part on good terms.
In the business world, there are aspects within your control and aspects beyond it. It is worth remembering the old Latin phrase “Si Vis Pacem, Para bellum.” It means “if you wish to have peace, prepare for war.” You may well never become the victim of any of the three antagonists above. But it is worth being prepared for them and having your strategy to deal with them should they arise.
Be aware also that if you see any of the above as a way of destabilizing a competitor, you will make yourself a target too. It is best to make fairness a focal point of what you do, even if you don’t expect it from others.