Have you established your local small business and looking to increase your customer base? Or, perhaps you are just starting out and looking to get a foothold? Collaborating with other businesses may be your answer. Among other benefits, collaborative working can help you to save on costs, increase your sales and extend your reach to acquire more customers. More start-ups and small businesses than ever are engaging in joint partnerships because it can help to grow their business.
Finding the Right Fit
For any collaboration to work there has to be total trust between the partners and benefits have to be mutual. Joining a local business network is one of the best ways to get to know other business owners, measure their credibility, and find out if they’re trustworthy. Networking can also help you to find businesses that are a good fit for your brand, which is an essential element to the creation of a profitable partnership.
Establishing an equal business relationship with shared values and benefits is vital to collaborative working. Agree on what it is you hope to achieve. What is your ideal outcome? Is the partnership for short or long-term gains? Are you collaborating on a one-off business venture? Who will do what? What resources are to be shared? Setting these ground rules at the outset will prove invaluable to the success of your strategy.
Businesses that are just starting out can benefit greatly by renting a workspace from another business. This can be as basic as having a desk in a corner of an office, having a small workstation at the back of a shop, or having an equal share of the facilities. Leasing business premises can be pricey, and an empty space is an expensive space. It makes sense, therefore, for businesses to share their workspace and keep renting and utility costs to a minimum.
You can collaborate with other local businesses to increase your sales, and theirs. Is there a product you can sell from their premises and vice versa? Are they offering a service that your product would complement? If so, you could refer more business their way in return for selling your product. Or, you may also agree that they receive a percentage from every product they sell; or, get products at discounted rates; or, provide money-off coupons, and so on.
It can be difficult and expensive to market your small business, so collaboration makes good sense. Business networks are a great source for finding partners to collaborate with. Pooling financial resources with another business (or businesses) can help you to reduce marketing costs and compete more effectively. Promoting each other brands, such as in joint promotional campaigns, can help to create brand awareness and help you to reach more customers than you would otherwise do on your own. Sharing marketing media channels is also a great, cost-effective way to get new customers.
Working collaboratively has its risks, as does any business venture, and you should be prepared for any outcome. And, when you’re relying heavily on someone else’s input, the risks can appear greater. That’s why trust is so important. Having a written contract, even a basic one, can help keep partners focused. Collaborative working can be challenging, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But, if successful, collaboration can bring plenty of benefits your way – reduced running costs, shared marketing costs, acquisition of new customers and business growth.