By definition, business collaboration is creating purposeful connections, both internally and externally, to achieve goals or solve problems through sharing varied skill sets, strengths, and perspectives.
Having established The Sussex Collaborative in March 2020, some may think there would never have been a worse time to be starting out. However, 5 months on and we’d all agree the timing was strangely good. Indeed we’ve all benefited from the value which can be gained from greater collaboration personally and across our individual businesses.
We are not alone in this belief, with the Chambers of Commerce launching Business togetherness a national campaign up and down the UK, highlighting the benefits of collaboration. As part of this nationwide campaign, the chambers continue to highlight the importance of people at the heart of any business and the challenges business owners face in finding the right people to support growth and success.
The value of collaboration
As sole traders or independent business owners, it’s easy to feel isolated at times. Since launching TSC, the value we have experienced from collaborating has included:
- Fresh inspiration – It is easy to get caught in your own bubble and miss out on new or alternative knowledge, particularly when our news feeds are curated for us via social media. So being able to get other’s perspectives on the economy, politics, business and everyday life has offered fresh perspectives to take into our own circles.
- Staying up to date with economic trends – with each of us having extensive networks across a variety of businesses, spanning multiple industries, its been invaluable to gain insights into how others are adapting to operating in business during 2020, giving benchmarks to measure our own performance.
- Problem solving – 2 heads are better than 1 and 5 are even better! No one can dispute the last 5 months have been tough as independent business owners, so to be able to discuss and share innovative ways to overcome challenges such converting prospects into clients, has been invaluable.
- Growing and strengthening our networks – We’ve defiantly found the phrase “collaboration is multiplication” to be true, with each of us sharing contacts and referrals within our respective networks, extending our individual reach to potential new connections.
Collaboration is one of the founding principals of The Sussex Collaborative and something we feel strongly about exploring further, as we work with our clients to evolve and develop their businesses.
Our top 6 tips for effective collaboration are:
- Choose partners with similar values and goals – to ensure positive interactions which enhance your business development, whilst protecting your reputation and values.
- Find opportunities for mutual growth – Collaborating with overlapping businesses can be a valuable marketing tool and a short-cut to reaching a larger audience and gaining more customers.
- Collaborate based on the value to your customers – not just a perceived internal or personal benefit. This will ensure success in driving growth from any relationship, as potential new customers will recognise the benefits which in turn builds trust with them.
- Look out for learning opportunities – Some of the most successful collaborations are those that bring together different skill sets and strengths.
- Make connections outside your existing network – partnerships with companies whose businesses complement your own, can open up opportunities for innovation and diversification so you reach a wider audience and potentially gain competitive advantage.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice – we’ve all benefited from those times when an extra pair of hands or another head, has provided a much-needed boost to overcome a challenge.
We absolutely believe we are stronger together in business. We look forward to continuing to extend our opportunities to collaborate, with both other professionals offering consultancy services and clients who can benefit from our shared experience and expertise, as they develop their businesses.
If you are a business owner and are finding yourself in a position where you have gaps in your senior management team, which are holding back your ability to progress your business plans, do get in touch.
Members of The Sussex Collaborative have extensive business experience to draw on and would be happy to jump in to support, or recommend someone from our networks, should our skills not meet your needs.