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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…