Many SMB owners believe starting and running a business is a solitary affair. In reality, collaboration for small businesses is vital to success. While competition is always a part of the bargain, when businesses look out for and support one another, owners, customers, and communities benefit. Here’s how to make collaboration work for your small business.
What Does Collaboration for Small Businesses Mean?
No matter what your field or industry, collaboration is a great opportunity. It helps grow your network and increase revenue while saving you money and teaching you new ways of operation. Businesses that learn from other businesses also tend to be more optimistic about the future, increase hiring, and express interest in forward-thinking opportunities.
Specific examples of small business collaboration include:
- Cross-promotion on social media.
- Guest blog posts.
- Running events together.
- Advertising together.
- Co-branding opportunities.
The list goes on and on. As the results come in, it doesn’t take long to see the advantages of teaming up.
Why Collaboration is Important For Your Business
Businesses collaborate for all types of reasons: to learn, be inspired, and even increase their buying power. They join forces with partners, customers, and suppliers to widen their reach and promote growth.
One of the best ways to move your small business forward is to work with others toward a common goal. Collaboration for small businesses is a powerful tool that opens up potential partnerships and opportunities as a way to boost sales, mitigate risks, and provide more value to your customers.
1. Solve Problems
We’ve all heard the expression, “two heads are better than one.” Collaboration brings outside perspectives to business dilemmas and provides fresh insight that helps reframe and solve problems. That can be a boon for small businesses with limited resources.
2. Leveraging Common Interests
Collaboration with other business owners allows for creativity and innovation. Partnering with other businesses that offer products or services that overlap with your target audience is a win/win scenario.
3. Vendor and Supplier Alliances
Forming alliances with existing and new vendors and suppliers is like networking with a growth purpose. Working with other companies that serve your audience can broaden your reach in ways you might never have imagined.
4. Collaboration Inspires
Small business owners focused on keeping the doors open sometimes develop tunnel vision. Collaborating with other business owners helps you remember the big picture and explore new ideas. Learning how others run their operations can be enormously beneficial to improving your own marketing, accounting, and planning efforts.
How To Prioritize Collaboration
Internal collaboration supports your small business’s external collaboration efforts. When you give employees tools to share ideas, swap recommendations, and refine initiatives seamlessly, they create a business culture that helps your business grow. The recent and sudden shift to remote work has made employee collaboration more challenging, but these tips help keep everyone working together toward common goals.
- Keep everything in one place. Lack of access is one of the biggest obstacles to smooth collaboration. Giving employees cloud-based knowledge management and communications tools ensure everyone’s in sync.
- Support real-time communication. Real-time chat is a great solution for remote workers looking to share ideas and react to new suggestions quickly.
- Encourage employee relationships. Virtual and in-person measures that support a team mentality can make all the difference to employee communications and teamwork.
- Allow employees to respond in their own time. People working in different time zones or on different schedules can benefit from cloud-based communication platforms that allow them to respond and share ideas when it’s convenient for them.
- Reduce the number of solutions. It’s tempting to invest in every new cloud-based tool and communications platform. Avoid bringing in too many or you risk overwhelming your employees—the exact opposite result you want from digital tools.
Finally, create a digital culture of collaboration by making it clear why your business values it and what it means to everyone’s success.
The Importance of a Stable Infrastructure in Collaboration
A modern IT infrastructure is the foundation for small business collaboration. Taking proactive control of your business’s IT environment creates a more stable business environment and positions you for greater growth. Data, voice, audio, and video are now commonly used to increase productivity and sales while minimizing costs.
New end-to-end technologies make maintaining infrastructure integrity a critical part of your small business’s success. You’re more confident about and better equipped to set long-term goals. And improved analytics capabilities identify opportunities for partnerships and innovative opportunities. Finally, they give you a competitive advantage necessary for today’s marketplace.
Digital readiness requires regular updating of aging infrastructure. As businesses begin or reignite their digital transformation projects, collaboration will become more important than ever. Resetting digital goals and forming strategic small business collaborations can be your ticket to long-term business success.