Life itself is an endless competition. Even the tiniest seed is programmed to grow as fast as possible, so that it gets more sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and other resources. If it fails to grow big quickly, others will overshadow it, and it may die.

Many people believe that this applies to businesses too. Perhaps I am the only one who does not share this belief. There are millions of small shops, restaurants, workshops, run by generations of a single family for ages, serving their neighborhoods, and these small businesses will outlast many giants.

Someone said that business is war, and I know that many business owners are managing their venue with this attitude. I am aware that some of them prosper, especially with the postulate “in war, all means are good”. As we are located in a small country and we started our web hosting business relatively early, in 2003/2004 we were already the biggest web hosting provider in Bulgaria. Actually bigger than all the rest put together. The morale at the office was always high, and as we didn't advertise, there were voices among colleagues asking me to take action towards getting the whole local market. The situation was: ICDSoft with 30,000 customers (29,900 abroad) and 4-5 local providers with 200-1,000 customers each. As I started from zero, I knew how hard it was for these small providers and how each new sale mattered for them. Meanwhile, our monthly profit was bigger than the summed up value of their companies. Taking their share of the market could be as easy as taking a pacifier away from a baby. But I did not intervene at all, as I believe that only a sick person would take such action.

Three years later, one of these companies managed to grow to 10,000 customers. We already had 60,000 customers, but my colleagues resumed their worries: "You see, they grew bigger and we did nothing, they state on their web site that they are the biggest Bulgarian web hosting provider, and this is not true, we are the biggest!" Then, against the expectations of my colleagues, I acted as an advocate of that company: “They are right, they have 10,000 BULGARIAN customers, while we have just about 1000, so they INDEED are the biggest web hosting provider on the Bulgarian web hosting market, please leave them alone.”

The Internet connectivity between Bulgaria and the rest of the world was quite poor in year 2000. However, several years later this changed, and the infrastructure here developed so fast that it was already a good idea to provide hosting to European, Asian, and African customers from servers in Bulgaria. Once we installed them, I heard again voices urging me to get the whole Bulgarian market. Indeed we could afford to have our ad on all billboards and newspapers here. Then, against their expectations, I called the owners of the biggest Bulgarian web hosting provider and asked them to have a meeting. Needless to say they came in 15 minutes, quite curious what Dimitar had to say.

It was our first and last meeting ever. I told them that we had some news, and I wanted them to hear this news from me in advance, along with my comments: “Today we are going to announce that we have servers in Bulgaria, but you do not have to worry. We do not advertise anywhere since 2001, and we will keep it this way. These servers are here to accommodate mainly customers from abroad. Moreover, the price of our services is much higher than your prices. We are not, and will not be your competition. I wanted you to hear this from me, not from forums, nor from our web site. Thank you for coming and wish you good luck!” Their faces revealed what a big relief it was for them. 

We are not on the same boat, but we are sailing the same stormy ocean, and if our routes cross sometimes, we should exchange salutes, not fire. I see nothing wrong if competitors know each other personally and if they communicate from time to time.

Sometimes I get mails or phone calls from owners of other web hosting companies. It is nice to hear from them that they take our Customer Support as example, and they try to keep the same level. Sometimes they have questions and I answer all of them, completely honestly. Actually, the idea for the Web Hosting World project grew after such conversations.

To my opinion, no matter whether one leads a company or even a country, they should take their time to know and understand their competitors. Or at least to remember that competitors are also live humans, not much different than we are, so we have to treat them the way we want them to treat us. If you still believe that business is a war, I have good news for you: War is Over.