How often do you get together with other businesses? When I started out in business I believed I would be working on my own. Everyone else in my field was ‘the competition’. Whenever I saw other people running events and doing things I felt threatened. But then I got talking to other businesspeople and quickly found out nothing could be further from the truth.
Cambridge is a very collaborative place to do business. There is a B2B event happening somewhere in the city almost every day. Far from being in competition, most people are happy to help, share ideas and make introductions. But if you are yet to be convinced about the value of collaborating with others, here are five reasons why I think you should.
1. You don’t know it all
There is so much to learn in business. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, there will be something you don’t know about which impacts on your business or the work you do for your clients.
Collaborating with other businesses enables you to learn about new developments in your industry or tools they are using. I belong to Drive The Network which encourages its members to take part in Q&As every week to share their knowledge. The discussions are then written up and there are more than 100 articles on everything from SEO to bookkeeping.
2. We are greater than the sum of our parts
Collaborating with other businesses enables you to do more. Whether there’s a contract you would like to bid for and need some additional support or you would like to outsource something you don’t have the time or expertise to do, collaborating creates opportunities.
Last year I took part in a social media day with Lenka Koppová, Rebecca Fordham, Sonya Kolodziejska, Jeremy Peters and Dan Ince. We helped lots of businesses, answering questions on Facebook ads, content, and how to make social media work for them. By working together we were able to put on a really valuable day which wouldn’t have been the same if only one or two of us had taken part.
3. A problem shared can be a problem solved
I have two brilliant business buddies Jemima Willcox and Lenka Koppová. We get together and chat about our businesses: what is going right, what we’re struggling with, what we would like to achieve. We support each other and shout out about events, blogs and talks on social media.
Just because you’re in business on your own, you don’t have to be alone. Having business buddies really helps, particularly on the days when you think: “why am I doing this?” or are struggling with imposter syndrome. It’s great to know people who understand what you are going through, and it’s the perfect excuse for a trip to FoodPark or Stir.
4. Build personal connections
Start chatting to other business people online and offline and you’ll soon find your network growing. Six degrees of separation soon narrows down as you get to know more people and make connections.
5. It’s fun!
I feel like this one should really be top of the list. Collaborating with others is fun. I have met so many brilliant people, had great conversations, gone to events I would never have come across, and had the opportunity to take part in projects as a result of collaborating with others.
If you’re not already working with other businesses, give it a go. There are so many opportunities and you never know where they might lead you.
Rachel Extance is a communications consultant. She enjoys working with others and taking part in collaborative projects.