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Collaboration 101

You have a viable business idea, created a solid strategic plan, and set the course for long-term success with a kick-ass marketing plan. Now what? What can you do to extend your reach and take your business to the next level? Collaborate! 

 

How? Since you've already laid the foundation for collaborating {see above} you can start by thinking about how you can add value to your target market by expanding your offering with a complementary product or service. A genuine desire to add value for your customers without putting your profits first? That's the essence of collaborating. Ask yourself: What can be added to my product/service to achieve the best possible outcome for my customers?

 

 

It all starts with knowing your target market, and the problem you're solving for them, very well. Look at their problem from several different angles and identify where your offering may fall short. Then brainstorm ideas that would expand and elevate your offering with complementary products or services. What else may your customers need and how can you offer it to them?

 

Once you have a product or service in mind, it's time to look for someone to collaborate with. You may already know someone, or have a recommendation for someone {holla, networking!}. You can also do your own research locally or online, or simply ask around on social media {Facebook groups are good for that}. If you find a fellow entrepreneur who might be a good fit, it's time to dig a bit deeper. 

 

Be prepared when you meet your potential collaboration partner, and have a clearly mapped out concept: what you bring to the table, what you're looking for from them, and how the collaboration will add value for both your target markets.

 

If you're both equally excited about the possibilities, you move on to setting {very clear} parameters of working together:

  • scope of work for each of you
  • which brand it will run under {or whether you'll form a new brand}
  • share of profits
  • share of costs
  • how to dissolve the collaboration if things don't work out
  • how to promote
  • timelines

The collaboration will have distinct elements from each of you, forming a unique product/service/brand. Most collaborations will run for a set period of time and serve a purpose, then you move on to the next project or go back to only working within your own company. A joint project is only one of many projects you'll be working on in your business, so make sure you distribute your time and energy wisely, and also pay attention that the collaboration won't dilute your own brand.

 

My best advice is to have a focused mission and vision for your collaboration, and to work with someone who has similar values and business values as you do. Communicate clearly and frequently, and always have the biggest possible benefit for the customer as the overarching theme. 

 

That all sounds super abstract, eh? Let's look at a few {imaginary} examples, maybe they will inspire you to go forth and collaborate!

  • coach and yoga instructor creating a course/workshop together to show people interested in personal development what self-care actually feels like {this one is not quite imaginary, my friend Danielle and I have created an e-course like that together}
  • an interior designer teaming up with a carpenter and painter to offer custom design accents for upscale homes 
  • a nutritionist and restaurant organizing a special dinner event featuring local products
  • a makeup artist collaborating with a costume designer to offer a special Halloween costume experience

What are your collaboration ideas? Join the Merritt Small Business Centre Facebook group, and let's chat!

 

Talk soon,

 

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