Given the inherent challenge of being a small business owner, making time to collaborate with other business owners can be a challenge, particularly if you’re in the start-up phase. However, established business owners know that collaboration is the best way to become and remain successful in today’s marketplace.
When I started my consulting practice in 1998 I didn’t know this. My marketing strategy was to include a handwritten note in the several hundred holiday cards I sent out each year. Unexpectedly, the demand was fast and furious. I wasn’t experienced enough to know that when someone seeks a consultant they typically need one now and tried to take on several projects at once. As a result, I over-promised, under-delivered and ended up in the hospital. That was a wake-up call.
Seek Opportunities to Collaborate
When we look for opportunities to collaborate with other business owners it changes our perspective from “How can I be successful?” to “How can we collaborate to ensure our mutual success?” and gives us greater opportunity for success.
One way to do that is to seek other business owner’s perspectives and counsel on a shared issue. A discussion about the peaks and valleys of consulting engagements resulted in a referral partnership that’s kept us both working for more than twenty years.
Collaboration, Not Competition
One of the most effective methods of making your business successful is to learn from businesses you’d typically consider your competition. Compare your products or services to theirs. What makes theirs better, faster, or less expensive? What can you do you compensate for or capitalize on the differences? How can you collaborate to drive up demand for both of your products or services?
You don’t have to look much further than your local newspaper or website for examples. On this little island we have: Restaurant Week, the Shrimp Fest, an Author’s Show, the monthly Art Walk, the weekly Farmer’s Market, the Bi-Weekly Craft Fair, and several private and publicly funded educational venues where you can teach, speak, learn, or just go to meet people.
Leah Ward-Lee is a entrepreneur and business writer based in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.