Illustration of large foot coming down on businessman

I have a confession to make. I bleed blue — Kentucky basketball blue. As a diehard Cats fan, my entire childhood revolved around playing basketball. I played travel ball, competed in skills tournaments, and averaged 17 points per game as a teen. In high school, I gave up basketball for my newfound love of running. After winning three team state championships and running a 4:24 mile, I went on to compete in college at Tennessee Tech University. Between basketball and running, my life revolved around competition — specifically beating that competition.

When I joined the family cleaning business in my mid-20s, I had a vision for being the biggest, best and most dominant cleaning company in our market. Accompanying this vision was a desire to crush the competition along the way. I wanted to win. Sure, conducting our business with high moral standards was important, but winning in business was the chief motivator.

After a series of events that led to some deep personal reflection, I was forced to rethink this mindset. Selfish ambition is not an adequate foundation upon which to build a thriving business. With me at the center and our competition as the enemy, core values and purpose inevitably become meaningless phrases no one really believes in. My team could see through the façade. Something had to change, and it did.

Through the relationships I've made in Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), I have come to view my competition as friends. In fact, I want to see them succeed because I care about them, their people, their families and the industry. As for the rest of the competition that I don't know, I'm sure I would want the same for them if I had the chance to get to know them.

So where does this leave me (and you) now? First, we can't in good conscience want our competition to fail, nor can we seek to undermine their success. Second, short of undermining your own company, we should help our friends in the industry, even our direct competitors. Socialists believe in a fixed pie that results in "haves" and "have nots." But I reject this notion. If people are creating as God designed them, the pie is always growing and those who serve well will have plenty of business.

The problem with focusing too heavily on market share or competition is that it cultivates selfishness in our organization, undermining the very foundation of our industry, which is serving others. The solution to our competition focus is customer focus. Striving for the best possible service at a responsible price will inevitably result in a successful company, all other things being equal. So don't seek to crush the competition. Hit home runs in service and relationships. Competition will soon fade as friendship and success take its place.

Jordan Tong is a BSC consultant and founder of Elite Business Coaching, in addition to being a third-generation owner of Frantz Building Services based in Owensboro, Kentucky. For more information on his coaching services, visit