How to Collaborate and grow your business
Why working with others can help you to grow your own business…
When you are an entrepreneur or working with a small team, collaborating can be a really effective way to scale your business.
Let’s start with the difference between cooperation and collaboration. When we cooperate we go along with others, we do what is asked of us and much of this is done behind the scenes – saying yes to charity events or donations, for example.
This usually means ensuring that we work within our sector’s rules and regulations and that we’re being seen to be doing the right thing when asked.
But business growth is actually stimulated through collaboration, which is a purposeful, proactive way to work with others for mutual gain.
Successful collaboration needs a conversation from the outset – what do you both want to achieve from working together? How will you actively promote that other person?
In terms of marketing, collaboration can work really well if you team up with the right people. Choose to work with businesses that complement each other, not compete with each other. And make sure you’re talking to the same audience.
To combat isolation:
One of the hardest things about being a business owner is isolation.
Collaborating with others can help to overcome this. Collaboration can be inspirational – it allows you to share ideas and test products to service into new markets.
A learning experience:
You can learn so much from working with others in different sectors. Collaboration offers great learning opportunities, from different management styles and ways of working to new information and technology.
Reach a wider audience:
Collaborating allows you to reach out to a wider network. You’re putting yourself in front of someone else’s audience and that gives huge opportunities for expanding your network of contacts.
Collaboration could also help you with problem-solving. Different sectors offer different skill-sets that can be mutually beneficial – what may be difficult for you may be relatively easy for someone else.
- Collaboration can save money: there are some situations where you may be able to partner on costs. For example, you could split the cost of advertising by taking a full page advertorial and sharing the cost of the content; you could hire an event space or pop-up shop and divide the cost between those collaborating.
- Collaboration can make money: explore possible joint revenue streams. For example, working with a partner as an affiliate, making new leads from others or earning a percentage reward from sales.
Types of collaboration
Be a guest:
This is where your partner provides value for your audience on a subject which complements yours – for example, by writing guest blogs, Facebook posts or doing interviews, podcasts and Live events.
By working together you could create a packaged service or product. When sold together, the customer benefits from two experts or two products – for example, a guided walk (walking specialist) + a picnic (cookery school or café).
Think about what events you could host jointly to keep the cost of an event down and reach a wider audience.
A long-term collaboration could be a strategic move. You may choose to collaborate on a series of articles, a joint podcast or a book. You may join forces to promote an exercise class, a wedding venue or preferred suppliers.
As we grow, things start to get tricky behind the scenes – there’s often too much to do and too little time. Now is the time to get help – find a mentor or business coach, outsource elements and use freelancers such as book-keepers, copywriters, designers and web designers. These are all useful types of collaboration.
This is how you promote your business by word of mouth with a paid element. Encourage collaborators to actively talk about your business and provide them with a bonus for sales coming directly from them.
Whatever form of collaboration you decide to adopt, it will have many benefits for your business. You know the old saying ‘two heads are better than one’ – as long as you’ve got the right heads working with you, you can’t go wrong!
Alison Teare is a qualified, marketer with more than twenty-five years’ business and management experience, in both the public and private sectors, at local and global levels.
A social media expert, Alison is a trainer and speaker who regularly provides advice to businesses to guide their social media and marketing policies and strategy. She developed an integrated Social Media Management programme which enables businesses to co-ordinate a successful implement their own sustainable social media presence. Alison also mentors entrepreneurs and small business owners, helping to reduce overwhelm and providing purpose and clarity in their business development and marketing.