Why businesses should collaborate | Denise Rawls

We are so delighted to welcome to PRECIOUS Denise Rawls, a seriously experienced business development consultant and founder of Hackney Hive. Denise is expert at helping SMEs make more money and impact with the resources they have. In her monthly column, she will share tips, advice and comment on all things marketing!

 

In my world cash is King, data is Queen and collaboration is where the magic happens. We all need some magic in our lives as well as in our businesses so I want to talk to you about collaborations and why, if you run a business, you should think about incorporating them into your activity.

If you live in London you may well have noticed that Esty, the online market place, has partnered with West Elm as a host for bricks and mortar events. The V&A regularly pair up with large and small brands to deliver exciting projects, online magazine and collective gal-dem being one of the most recent. If you love shopping you’ll know that almost every week a designer is collaborating with a high street store on a new range – Henry Holland for Habitat is one of my favourites.

Collaborations allow you to reach audiences you wouldn’t be able to reach without months, maybe years of nurturing.  As a business development consultant I get to work with lots of exciting businesses and social enterprises. One of my clients is a food redistribution charity who work collaboratively with the major food retailers to access surplus food. The charity is tiny compared to one of their partners Tesco but they each have something the other needs and that is what matters – not size.

1. Collaboration can inspire you.

It is easy to get into a routine during the day-to-day operations of your business and forget there may be a better way to do something, different techniques to try.

2. Collaboration helps you grow your network.

Successful entrepreneurs have a common interest in meeting new people and building a list of contacts.

3. Collaboration can help you save money.

Many collaborative relationships involve splitting intellectual contribution, hands-on work and, sometimes, expenses. If you collaborate with another business and part of the terms involve sharing development and marketing expenses, you can double your budget while reducing costs.

Collaborations are not about size, they are about a good fit and each partner bringing access to an audience they wouldn’t reach on their own. 

 

If you want to set up a successful collaboration, decide early what you want to get from the partnership as well as what you have to offer. You are creating both economic value and social value – that is the magic.

Before approaching a potential partner be confident you can demonstrate your value – you must be able to show another company how your product or service will help them gain more customers, make more money or give them access to social connections.

And do be patient, larger companies often take an age to make decisions and clear budget costs, so don’t expect a plan to emerge overnight. Be patient and keep in regular touch with your key contact.  You should be prepared to make your profit split 60/40 with a larger company, your partner will expect more from you, and you should expect slightly less back. Give 60 percent of your time and efforts; expect to get 40 percent of theirs in return.

So collaborations are a brilliant way to quickly expand your business and have some fun on the way. My one ask is you collect all the contacts you can, don’t delegate, don’t expect your collaborative partner to pass the details on.  Data is Queen, we’ll talk about all the money she can make you soon.

 

Denise Rawls is the founder of TheHackneyHive.com a boutique business and media strategy consultancy which works with organisations of all sizes who want to grow their profitability and influence. @Denise_Rawls

 

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