Collaboration is a powerful tool for all small business owners, regardless of the industry you are in or the type of business you have. It is the connections you form with others, and the different ways you collaborate with those people you formed connections with, that will help you grow your business to new levels. If you are not convinced that collaboration is really worth the time and effort, here are five reasons you should care about collaboration in your small business.
1. Collaboration Will Inspire You
It is easy to get into a routine during the day-to-day operations of your business and forget that there may be a better way to do something, different techniques to try, and new tools that can save you time and money.
While you can read blogs, magazines, and books for inspiration, if you are not communicating, sharing, and discussing that information, the benefits are limited. It is vital to get outside of your own head to get a fresh perspective, trigger your creativity, review incoming information objectively, and add new context to the data you are gathering so you can use it effectively. Going beyond what you do and see each day to explore collaboration can be inspiring and help you think in a new way.
2. Collaboration Helps You Grow Your Network
Successful entrepreneurs have a common interest in meeting new people and building a list of contacts and colleagues. Being successful in business requires that you consistently make connections and form alliances. Imagine how your business would dwindle if you continued to network with and sell to the same group over and over again.
While every contact you make may not result in collaboration, every time you reach out to someone to explore the possibility, you are expanding your network.
3. Collaboration Is Educational
One of the biggest benefits of collaboration is the opportunity for learning. In fact, every interaction you have with someone outside of your immediate circle can teach you something valuable. Some of the most successful collaborations involve two professionals who bring two very different skill sets, perspectives, and strengths to the table. When this happens, you are certain to be surrounded by learning opportunities.
4. Collaboration Can Help You Save Money
Many collaborative relationships involve splitting intellectual contribution, hands-on work and, sometimes, expenses. If you collaborate with another business and part of the terms involve sharing development and marketing expenses, you can double your budget while reducing costs.
In this case, you can be fairly certain you will be getting a bigger bang for your buck than you would be if using only your own resources, provided all of the parties involved are equally invested in the success of the collaboration.
For example, a company might share trade booth space with a complementary partner, then co-market their participation. This can attract more foot traffic and add resources to enhance the experience visitors have at the booth.
5. Collaboration Solves Problems
There is a reason crowdsourcing is so popular; there is an undeniable power in numbers. If one person can't accomplish something on his or her own, two or three or more people may be able to get it done.
Think about the last difficult problem you faced in your business. When we get stumped, most of us immediately go to a partner, mentor, or other trusted resource who acts as a sounding board and helps us work through the problem. The harder the problem is to solve, the more we can benefit from getting the input of someone outside of the situation. And when you add new viewpoints and experiences to the mix, the end result will often transcend what you originally set out to accomplish.
6. Collaboration in Action Is Win-Win
One wedding caterer in California became a valuable one-stop shop for couples by hosting tastings that let its dishes be sampled while introducing local wedding planners, photographers, florists and location specialists.
A gym owner proposed becoming a trial location for an exercise equipment vendor, saving the owner the expense of purchasing the fitness machine and giving the vendor a place to send prospects wanting to try it out.
A coffee shop placed a fresh floral display at its entrance, giving promotion to the florist a few doors down while enhancing the ambiance of its establishment at no cost.
The good news is that small business collaboration doesn’t necessarily require a significant time or financial investment if you think creatively.