Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

One of the 4Networking Directors, Tim Johnson, caused a little bit of an outcry not that long ago when he announced to members that one man bands do not work. Now I can understand why his members were initially upset, after all most networking groups are built upon one man bands. Yet what Tim actually meant was that most one man bands will always, at best, struggle. However, if business owners are open minded and look at collaborating, then their potential for success and longevity massively increases.

For example, if you are a web designer then you may well make an adequate living by working alone and designing websites, however you are likely to find that you are spending a lot of your time doing sales, administration, customer care etc rather than being productive and building a website, therefore drastically cutting in to your potential income. Furthermore, you may be limited to take on larger projects knowing that they will either be too big for you, or will consume all of your time and risk you losing existing clients. Now, if you are open minded and decide to collaborate, think how much the web designer could achieve. Joining forces with a like minded web designer with complimentary skills could mean that those larger projects become much more attainable, or joining forces with a sales expert may free you up to concentrate on web design whilst they are out getting you clients.

Many people I meet and suggest this to initially seem cautious and skeptical, but remember that you are collaborating, not becoming part of each others business permanently. Collaborating simply means working together to achieve a common goal. It’s understandable for business owners to be protective and feel as if they don’t want to let anyone have control of any aspect of their business, but if all business owners did that then we wouldn’t have any large corporations!

So how do you collaborate successfully whilst still retaining your own business identity?

1. Agree on the project that you are going to collaborate on.

Don’t keep the collaboration open and vague, be specific about what needs to be achieved.

2. Set ground rules.

Make it clear from the begin who is responsible for what, how funds will be divided, who gets the credit.

3. Be choosy

You may find you are approached to get involved in all kinds of business activity, don’t just say yes to everyone that comes along. Remember that your involvement with people will have a reflection on you and your business, so work with people that you know have the same goals, ethics and values.

4. Keep an open mind

You may find that whilst engaging in a conversation, that a business idea presents itself that you would have never considered. Make the most of bouncing ideas off a peer and you may be surprised at the results.

5. Be flexible

Like any relationship, a collaboration does need a bit of give and take so from the beginning be confident of what you can accept and what you cannot accept. Compromise is essential, but only if you are compromising on things which you are comfortable with.

Working with a peer that support and / or compliments your strengths can bring so many positive outcomes, you may wonder why you hadn’t taken the leap before.

Written by Lianne Dupre

Lianne Dupre

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Lianne Dupre

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