Entrepreneurs are often introspective creatures. Much of what we do leads us to be independent, self-sufficient and successful on our own. A "solo" mindset is powerful for the driven entrepreneur, but it can also lead to complacency and a lack of progress. This is especially true for small business owners who work without a team to support them on a daily basis.
One solution to being complacent on your own is opening yourself up to collaborative opportunities. Collaboration can take many forms, including partnerships, joint ventures, cross promotion, business networking and online sharing. And it doesn’t have to take much time for it to be a useful way to move your business forward.
There are many reasons you should make time for this type of collaboration; here are five of the most powerful:
1. You are growing your network
I don't know many successful entrepreneurs who aren't interested in meeting new people. 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.
2. Money...you can save it
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'll 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.
3. Your bubble is limiting you
When you're the only one involved in your business, it's easy to get into a routine 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. You only have access to what you know.
Sure, you can read blogs, magazines and books, but if you're not communicating, sharing and discussing that information, the benefit is limited. It's vital to get outside of your own head in order to get a fresh perspective, trigger your creativity, review incoming information objectively, and add new contexts to the data you are gathering so you can use it effectively.
Moving beyond what you do and see each day to explore collaboration can be inspiring and help you think in a new way.
4. There is power in numbers
There's a reason why crowdsourcing is so popular; there is an undeniable power in numbers. If one person can't accomplish something on their 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 that 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.
5. 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.
In any collaboration, whether you are having a conversation with a colleague about different ways you can partner, building a strategic alliance with a fellow entrepreneur or networking with someone you just met, there are nuggets of information to be gathered that you can later apply to your own business and pass on to your network for mutual growth.
The possibility of collaboration is always around us. We just have to be willing to step out from our comfort zones and take the initiative to make it happen.
Image credit: inottawa
OPEN Cardmember Alyssa Gregory is the Founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community that provides small business help through networking, collaboration and information sharing.