‘Collaboration’ is undoubtedly a bit of a business buzzword
However, it’s easy to understand how entrepreneurs and business owners could see advice to ‘collaborate with the competition‘ as counter-intuitive. Competitive analysis is at the forefront of every business and marketing strategy. And indeed, in a challenging economic climate staying ahead of your competitors is at the core of organisational success and growth.
I would argue, however, that collaboration and partnerships are also invaluable tools for all business owners, regardless of the industry or sector you are in. The connections you form with others and the ways you collaborate with them will help you take your business to the next level. Whether they are a competitor or not.
A collaborative approach inspires creativity
It’s easy to get into a routine while running a business. You often forget that there is perhaps a better way to do something — there are new theories and techniques to try, or new tools that allow you to be more productive or efficient. A fresh perspective can spark your creativity and help you to review a deluge of incoming information objectively.
Getting a sense of how other business owners approach challenges can be extremely helpful. This isn’t about swapping trade secrets. It is about inspiring you to think in a way that might not have been your natural first response to a business problem. And that could be more efficient.
Helps you grow your network and build stronger connections
The more you know, the more you grow. A peer networking group, professional association, or trade body can be an excellent way to meet and connect with other like-minded business founders and/or leaders. This networking can ultimately lead to invaluable collaboration opportunities or profitable partnerships. My experience of networking events run by the likes of BIMA, Agency Hackers and the AllBright has been incredibly warm and welcoming. A far cry from the competitive environment we’ve been historically told to expect. Peers have been readily available to connect, offering guidance, support, or even just a listening ear.
It seems those who are the most involved with networking groups and/or have also benefited from industry peer support are much more likely to be supportive of others as well.
This has absolutely been my experience, and as such, I believe in the power of paying it forward. Therefore, I’ll always go out of my way to listen to someone else’s business journey — the ups and the downs — and provide support and advice where I can.
To illustrate this point, I contacted an industry titan after a networking event, and she has provided me with opportunities and introduced me to new clients. And similarly, I’ll always recommend someone whose business is right if I receive an inbound business project that isn’t quite right for us.
Strengthens teams and motivates employees
The same applies to your own teams as well. Internal collaboration boosts productivity, energy, and innovation. And the data supports this. A study of more than 1,100 companies found that those who promote and prioritise collaboration among their employees were up to five times more likely to be high performing.
Other research from Deloitte shows that businesses that collaborate are twice as likely to outgrow their competitors. Their collaborating employees gained efficiency, quality, innovation, and overall job satisfaction as a result.
Most corporate websites mention ‘teamwork’ or ‘collaboration’ in their mission statement, but mounting data on collaboration’s ROI demonstrates that it is so much more than simply a buzzword. It is an integral part of a business strategy, especially for those organisations looking not only to thrive but also flourish and grow during these turbulent economic times.
Closer collaborations, and partnerships, fuel innovation, drive productivity and are at the core of new business growth. All while sparking added interest in, and the enjoyment of, our own work. As Robert Ingersoll said about the value of kindness — ‘we rise by lifting others‘.
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