You’ve heard the term “no man is an island”? I’m sure most people would agree that life is much better when it is shared with other people. Whether it’s a spouse, partner, parents, children or friends, we all need other people around us.
Its no different in business. Whether it’s employees, partners, associates, peers, advisors or coaches, it’s much easIer to build a successful business when we surround ourselves with people who are smarter than we are in certain topics.
Business owners often struggle with two key areas: finance and marketing. Think about it. Many people who start a business do so because they’re really good at something and they think that if they go into business for themselves, they’ll be getting the full benefit of their hard work rather than having someone else making a profit off of their talents. Think of the plumber, electrician, or baker. But just because one is good at making pies doesn’t mean she will know how to balance a budget or create a logo!
A small business startup will often do everything themselves in the beginning when the budget is tight. As business increases, they will hire employees or freelancers to handle some aspects of their operation. I have found that a lot of small business owners make the same mistake that I did: wait way too long to get help. It’s hard sometimes to justify paying for a service that one thinks he can do himself. Personally, I feel that I would have been much more successful much sooner had I listened to expert advice!
But there are other ways to get help besides hiring people. Over the years I’ve been in business, I’ve done a lot of networking. I’ve created great relationships with other business men and women, and I’ve not only learned a great deal from them, but I’ve also created some great partnerships where we have helped each other by sharing our expertise and resources. Here are some examples.
A group of my friends who have business to business services and I got together and created a booklet to help someone going into business for themselves with advice on key areas that one needs to think about when starting a business. The piece is given away for free, but it has a double duty. It really helps the reader, but from our perspective it was a way of promoting our services at the same time.
Someone I know who has a carpet cleaning service created a collaboration with three other local carpet cleaning services to order supplies together. They all benefit by paying less for the supplies because they can place a larger order. This is an example of coopetition. Companies that may be thought of as competition for one another find a way to work together for mutual benefit.
Businesses along the main retail street in Plymouth get together and have a Halloween walk the afternoon of Octobers 31st so that the kids can trick or treat along the street, while the businesses have other promotional items on their tables. They get together to organize and promote the event.
I’ve been to free seminars held by financial planners, CPAs, insurance brokers and real estate agents to help home owners with advice on retirement planning. They give free advice while promoting their services.
Just this week, Doctors Choice, a start up company dedicated to helping seniors make good Medicare insurance choices, proposed a collaboration with Two Grannies on the Road where we would promote each other in social media. It’s a win-win situation!
By thinking outside the box and being open to working with others, business owners can mutually benefit by collaborating with others. What ideas do you have?