From One Small Business Owner to Another: Collaboration Tips

small-business-collaborationCollaboration is a powerful way for small business owners to make a bigger impact in the marketplace. The joining together of 2 (or more) minds, ideas, customer pools and social media presences means that the potential for greatness is, at the very least, doubled.

Some simple ways to collaborate with another small business owner may include swapping guest blog posts on each other’s sites or agreeing to promote the other’s business on your brand’s social channels and in your store. Some larger scale collaborations may be to co-host a joint event that is promoted by both businesses, or two businesses partnering together to offer more services to their respective clientele.

We have been a part of both large and small collaborations that our clients have been involved in, and we currently partner with other small businesses in the manner described above.

While the power of collaboration is undeniable, it’s not necessarily easy. And you do need to be sure both sides are benefitting from the collaboration. Here are a few tips to help you identify potential collaborative opportunities and create a win-win partnership.

4 Tips for Successful Collaboration between Small Businesses

  1. Related but not Competitive When you profile your ideal client, chances are that you’re identifying the perfect types of businesses to collaborate with as well. If you run a bridal alterations business, for example, you could target bridal gown shops, salons, florists or jewelry stores. All of these businesses are part of the wedding planning process, yet none of them are in direct competition with another.
  2. Turn your Competition into your Co-Workers I realize this is in stark contrast to the last point. However, I have seen this done well. We have a client who is a travel writer. After years working her own site, social media presence and brand, she decided to pull together several travel writers to create a comprehensive family travel website. Their new site is deep with content, has more opportunities for brand sponsorships and now boasts a lot more features that all parents searching for family travel advice, will appreciate.
  3. Establish Processes & Expectations Ahead Let’s say you and another business owner have discussed partnering together in order to offer more services to your own clients. You may own a social media & SEO firm (cough, cough) and the other business owner has a graphics and WordPress business. You both know that clients who come to each of you often ask about services the other offers. You talk and decide to set up a referral process between your two companies. You come to an agreement over how introductions to the client will work, how payment will work, and anything else that is involved in the process. Then you start referring.
  4. Share Responsibilities This is often where great collaborations can break down. Two companies come together with an incredible idea that is a win-win for both, but one side doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain. This can lead to resentment, frustration, and ultimately, the end of that collaborative effort. You don’t have to split up the responsibility 50/50, but you do need to be sure you follow through on what you’ve promised.

Collaboration may be what you need to take your business to the next level. Be smart about who you approach and how you handle those potential collaboration opportunities, and you will be on your way to success.


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