“There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women”

This quote by Madeliene Albright certainly gets one to sit up and make the intention to help, pull up or support people from their tribe. Be it a women community or a business group that you are a part of, a key element for collective growth for entrepreneurs is Collaboration.

A Stanford University study emphasizes that ‘A defining aspect of human society is that people work together toward common ends.’ Business collaboration has the potential to fulfill the growth gaps in your venture. Whether it is getting complementary competencies, backward-forward linkages or expanding into new markets; working together is the secret sauce for a successful business. 

I am a great advocate of collaborations and strategic partnerships. But we also need to look at how to make them more effective and work for us in a meaningful way. Here are the top 3 ways to do it: 

Identifying the right collaborator:

It’s very important to make collaboration last. And for that you need to have partners that synergize and complement your business. For this begin with defining who they are, what domain, profile, are they a part of your supply chain or value chain or they are market linkages that help you get to new clients. You are teaming up with them for a specific agenda. So commercial arrangement alone cannot be the deciding factor. Think through and make a list of criteria to select the right partners. 

The correct way to approach:

When you meet people at events, digital networks or through referrals, approach with the intention of building relationships rather than transactions. Share your personal stories, walk them through your entrepreneurial journey to find similarities and tie a hook to the common areas. Apart from developing a trusting relationship, you need to clearly define the roles and responsibilities for each kind of the collaborator. It’s not only about how they are relevant to you, but also about what they are looking for and how you can add value to them 

Making it a win-win:

Clarity is of prime importance in making a business arrangement work. So a well communicated partnership strategy, defined goals and objectives, workable operational plan and systems for monitoring and measurement must be established in initial stages. If there are cultural and geographic differences, make sure you have project management and communication plan in place at the very beginning. It is always a good idea to have things documented as well as get your collaborator agreement contract with the mutually agreed upon clauses. Remember, we are thinking long-term. 

Fern Koh, the founder of luxury beauty products Fernberry in Hong Kong says ‘Collaborations are an amazing way to extend your clientele, as well as to tap into new markets that you’ve never thought of before.’

The power of collaboration for any business — whether a startup or a small business or multinational mainstay — can result in sustainable growth and longevity. We understand the importance of coming together, let’s put the focus on making it more effective.