I was always told your network is your net worth and in all truth I get it.
However, I was never sure how to really go about collaborating in the online space or offline for that matter. I attended some events, ran a few, connected online, used some recommended coaches and mentors to get to grips with this new tango of positioning my services online but was always wary as real life rules never tend to apply online, I found.
Boundaries are a funny thing and minus the niceties and avoiding the sleazy sales pitches in my inbox from people I had never spoken to in my life, I still had my collaborator radar on.
I could spend forever searching social media groups for willing associates but as a home educating single mother to six I needed to use my working hours wisely to keep my business running smoothly and social media is not the place to effectively time manage!
Luckily, I attended a London event back in February and as seats filled I found myself sat at a table with a few familiar online faces and a few brand new. The day passed, numbers were exchanged and I made my way home back into mum duties.
A couple of weeks later I found myself on a video call with an Emma.
One to one we were much more human and found we both shared similarities but didn’t force the relationship. A bit like a cross between online dating and a polite bus stop chat we sized each other up slowly and yet deeply delving into our vision both on a professional and personal level as our friendship organically grew.
It struck me how lonely running a business solo had felt. Without a team, second guessing your next moves can feel daunting. I soon looked forward to running my ideas past Emma and getting her feedback.
Since February I have lost count of the times we have spoken, and I recently stayed over at Emma’s Kent cottage with my children to not only talk business but to solidify our friendship in the real world.
Collaboration is not only a good move professionally but personally too.
Here are my top 5 benefits…
‘Two mind’s are better than one’ and when it comes to solution based thinking collaborating with an associate with a set of skills in addition to your own adds a whole new dimension to your services.
Using Emma as an example, having someone with 20+ years of creative design expertise taps into a skill set I could not even skim in my services had we not met.
The opportunity to devise additional services as a duo gives way to immeasurable opportunities.
Having a collective of business contacts from each others network expands your visibility and reach and potential customer base.
Like, know and trust factor in and when we recommend an associate we tend to go with said person, saving time and worry about if they are the person for the job.
On that note, awareness and familiarity in each others offerings leads to referrals.
People trust people that are known, used and recommended by their people.
If I recommend Emma to an associate it is because I can confidently assess she is the person for the task at hand.
The accountability factor means your productivity will soar.
Telling someone your next moves, means the likelihood of completion and TIMELY completion at that, increases.
Checking in on each other via voice note, a weekly scheduled video call or even a quick text message to touch base keeps you both motivated to complete your tasks, be they individually or as a joint venture.
The most important and valuable benefit of collaborating is friendship.
We are after all, our relationships.
The people in our lives matter so make them good ones.
Building a business solo is often lonely, challenging and sometimes scary.
Questioning your decisions, unsociable hours and sacrifice can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
The friendship of someone who gets it and encourages you on the days you doubt your capabilities is priceless.
I reflect back and wonder how my business would look without my meeting a ‘biz buddy’ as people like to describe such partnerships.
In this case the phrase never mix business with pleasure is obsolete, we merge both pretty well I’d say.
My advice to anyone going it alone; find a collaborator that compliments your skill set and put yourself out there, with no other agenda than to share your wins and failures.
Ultimately, to all lone business owners, everyone needs an Emma.