In today's world you need to be a cut-throat competitor to survive or so the received wisdom goes.
But at least one Dunedin small business believes there may be another, more altruistic element to competition, one conferring wider benefits to business and clients alike.
That firm is St Andrew Street's Sliver Hair Cutters, run by industry veteran of more than two decades, salon owner Jackie Greig.
Last month Greig, alongside Sliver creative director Kylie Crutchley and creative stylist Liv Hynes, heard they were the South Island's only nominated finalists (among seven) in the artistic team section of the inaugural New Zealand Hairdressing Awards.
A win wouldn't be the first time the salon had tasted top-level success but would certainly boost Sliver's momentum for 2013, Greig said.
"We enter as many competitions as we possibly can each year, " she said.
"It would be easy just to see competing as a means of satisfying personal vanity but at Sliver we believe it's the most effective way to sharpen your progressive, creative abilities against the industry's best at the highest levels."
Weathering the global economic downturn "pretty OK" at the moment, Greig attributed Sliver's continued growth and lasting success to a "whole-team" business development model, where owners, staff and clients were equal, and equally important, stakeholders.
"I think a lot of businesses pay lip service to staff input and client feedback but often that's all it is, " Greig said.
"Styling at Sliver is a collaborative experience involving whole-team input and innovation, and we centrepiece the client's aspirations and desires. That way everyone feels like they have a voice that's genuinely valued, which sets up a professional, confident and friendly atmosphere. Great for staff and great for clients."
Customer service might be one vital strand of a successful business offering but equally important was providing a high quality, consistent end product.
Acquisition of "new skills, talents and finesse" at both regional and international level was something for which a bit of good, old- fashioned competition was highly effective, Greig said.
"By continually having to step up your game you're always improving what you're able to provide to your clients, and they come to you confident they're receiving cutting-edge trends and technical flair.
"We're unashamed perfectionists, captivated by the magic of transformation. We favour bold, strong, geometric shapes and precision hair cuts that work for everyday wear but that are also emblematic of freedom of expression."
A keen artistic sensibility within the team, many of whom had parallel lives in fashion design, helped give them an edge in competition, Greig believed.
"We try and bring all sides of fashion together for our competition photo shoots, providing a highly detailed, total style package that I think judges and the public respond to.
"We're passionate about what we do and that translates into our work."
A win at April's New Zealand Hairdressing Awards would confirm they were on the right track, Greig said.
"Getting to the finals of any competition is exciting and inspiring for our team. We'll be aiming high and hoping for glory."
What: Sliver Hair Cutters have reached the artistic team finals of the inaugural New Zealand Hairdressing Awards.
Where: The finals take place in Auckland, April 6 to 7.
Who: The salon's artistic team comprises salon owner Jackie Greig, creative director Kylie Crutchley and creative stylist Liv Hynes.
- D Scene