One of the most common questions people ask me is how I find work. The answer? Frenemies. So what are frenemies and why are they so useful?

In the business world, a ‘fremeny’ is a person you regard as a friend but also as an ‘enemy’ or a competitor. Over the years my frenemies (in my case, fellow freelance professional writers and ghostwriters) have largely kept me in business not only through referrals but also by generously swapping notes and sharing information.

But it’s not only the freelance world that benefits from frenemies. Over the last few years, big businesses have overcome their rivalry to collaborate on profitable projects. (Think Toyota and Ford or Microsoft and Dell). In fact, according to a recent study by PwC, almost 30% of CEOs are in discussions or already working with their competitors.

Some people are reluctant to get in touch with people who work in the same field for fear of being undercut by these ‘rivals’ or having work poached from them. But as every leader knows, trust is the linchpin of any successful business. Building and maintaining relationships with your frenemies is a worthwhile pursuit especially when they may well become one of most important assets of your business.

Five reasons why you need frenemies

1.You learn more

Exchanging ideas and sharing information is a great way of picking up tips and applying them to your own business.

2. You get more business

Connecting with people in the same or similar fields helps to generate more work through referrals.

3. You get to work on high-quality projects together

Reaching out to other like-minded people may result in lucrative business collaborations.

4. You gain new perspectives and feedback

Discussions with your frenemies can offer new and fresh perspectives on a particular topic, enabling you to expand and improve on your original thoughts and ideas.

5. You get more motivated

Working with frenemies pushes you to work harder and do your job better because of the element of competition between you.

Recently my frenemies and I got together to set up United Ghostwriters – a hassle-free marketplace which takes the risk out of finding the right ghostwriter for a particular project. This would never have happened if we had regarded each other as ‘the enemy’.