‘How I turned conflict into opportunity’

When similar businesses operate in the same space, it can result in animosity between them. But as one business owner says, “where there is conflict, there is opportunity”. Here’s how he made a success of failed relations.

You may have a rivalry with a similar business, but have you ever despised them so much you physically assaulted them?

This is what surrounded Aaron Shaw, CEO of Sydney Seaplanes, before he owned his business.

“Up until I became involved in 2005, there was about five or six companies operating [seaplane businesses]. [The directors] were all fighting terribly amongst one another, including physically,” he explains on the My Business Podcast.

At the time, Aaron and his current business partner were shareholders of two of the existing businesses.

“I actually had to attend in court once because I witnessed an assault of one to the other, so the police asked me to come along and give my account.”

Aaron noticed that it wasn’t just this conflict that was causing the businesses to lose money, it was also their refusal to work together, which was resulting in poor business decisions.

Businessman wearing boxing gloves“For instance, you would have three six-seat airplanes, all with two people on them, going to the same destination, instead of one plane full going to that destination,” says Aaron.

“I don't think anyone was enjoying it. The fighting was not something that was enjoyable to anyone. I think quite a few of the guys there were quite keen to get out of it.

“Where there is conflict, there is opportunity.”

He and his current business partner decided that the opportunity was to buy out all the other businesses and merge them into a new business.

“We were there at the right time to make that happen and offer them a reasonable amount for the businesses as they were at the time, all pretty much money-losing businesses, and make it one solid, strong company with an obvious name like Sydney Seaplanes and a good brand from that point forward.”

Hear more insights from Aaron, including on operating in an environment with copious red tape and forming relationships with other businesses for mutual benefit, on the My Business Podcast now!

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