Running your own business as a Solopreneur can be lonely. It can take time doing it all on your own. We have to do everything ourselves. We’re the marketing person, the Bookkeeper, the sales person, the admin person etc., and don’t have the luxury of being able to bounce ideas around with a team of people. Or do we?
It’s really important to surround yourself with a tribe of business people that you can connect with, both on and offline. We don’t want you turning into a hermit. As humans we need human connection. So before you do anything on this, start to surround yourself with some fabulous people that you can brainstorm ideas with. People with whom you can talk openly with, about your challenges, fears and successes. You don’t need to run your business all on your own.
Now, what’s great about those connections is they can, over time, turn into lovely business collaborations.
So what’s a collaboration?
Business Dictionary.com defines it as “a co-operative arrangement where two or more parties work jointly toward a common goal.”
One thing I love to do is connect people with people, I encourage my clients and Facebook group members to connect with each other so that they can form some collaborations. It can be as simple as agreeing to share each other’s blog and social media posts. Or it can be as involved as hosting a telesummit like I did last year. I collaborated with 11 amazing women, all running their own independent businesses, and invited them to share their business hints and tips with our audience.
It can help you to grow your business – through collaborative projects, word of mouth referrals, affiliate schemes etc. etc.
Collaboration can be amazing, they can be fun for you where you get to brainstorm with someone else and try out new ways of working, and they can be great for helping you to grow your business too, plus you can learn loads of new things along the way. How do you get started?
There are loads of ways you can start to build up collaborations. You might start with your local networking group – you could arrange to meet up 121 for a cuppa outside of the meeting to get to know more about the other person’s business. You could join online groups and start to connect outside of the group, again to learn more about each other.
Make sure the people you choose to work with are people you like
You don’t want to be too similar or there might be clashes. Often the differences between you make for a good collaboration.
There ideally needs to be a link between what you do– so let’s say if one of you works with clients on confidence and the other works in hair and beauty there could be a great collaboration there.
You can work with people that have complementary skills, or perhaps people you might think are competitors but you both have your own unique way of doing things. With competitors your ideal clients might be the same so it can work to your advantage. Anyway, I believe there is room enough for everyone in this world, so competition doesn’t even need to apply.
Now, you may have had a bad experience with collaboration, but that doesn’t mean that all collaborative partnerships will go the same way. Get really clear on your boundaries and go out there and build your businesses together.
You don’t have to have contracts necessarily, it depends how formal you want the relationship to be but it helps to get terms of reference at the beginning of your relationship – clear terms of who is responsible for what and when. That could be a simple private message saying, I’ll do this if you do that, or you could go a more formal route. This helps to set the boundaries from the beginning.
There are good ways and bad ways to approach someone to collaborate with you
I’ve been on the receiving end of both, and I’ve made lots of mistakes myself along the way, so let’s just check out a bit of etiquette before we move on.
Get to know the other person first, don’t just contact someone out of the blue
and get them to share about your business
You’ve probably had it yourself where someone has direct messaged you on LinkedIn or Facebook etc., asking you to spread the word for them. That’s a no-no, UNLESS you’ve already got a good relationship together. When you have something to launch they will be much more willing to help you if the relationship has been a mutual one. Bombarding someone with information expecting them to share your latest offering isn’t fair, unless again you’ve created that great relationship with them in the first place.
If you’re just asking them to share something for you, then offer a way that you can help in return. I know I’ve messed this up myself in the past. I know that when I ask for help I will always help that person in return at some point, I never forget when a person has helped, but if they don’t know that the message might be received as being quite rude.
I’ve asked for market research in groups in the past, where I get people to jump on a call with me, and that’s fine if you have the connection, but I could have been anybody asking for help. Going forward now, I offer them something in return, whether that’s a share on my post, to help connect them with someone or jumping on a call with me. The level depends on how much time I have available and what my request has been.
We all have things we need to launch from time to time in our business, like a new programme or a book, telesummit etc. Don’t just contact someone asking them to become an affiliate with you for their book/programme though. For me, I won’t be an affiliate for anything I haven’t personally tried myself, whether I know the person or not. I might know that person has fabulous content, but if I haven’t experienced that one thing first hand then I won’t become an affiliate for them, full stop. I choose my affiliates very carefully. I don’t want to vouch for something that I’m not familiar with.
If you want someone to be an affiliate for your programme or book/package etc. then give them a copy of your book, or access to your programme, or at least a taster of what it is that you offer. You wouldn’t promote a film you’ve never seen. So, why would you go all out and promote someone else’s programme or product if you’ve never even seen a copy, or have an idea of what it’s about.
So this all sounds great, but what do you do together?
Here are a few ideas, but the list is as limitless as your imagination!
• Interviews of each other, asking questions that are relevant to your ideal clients • Write a book together • Run an event together – perhaps create a training programme, online or face to face • Cross-promote in social media, newsletter, blog posts etc. • Engage with each other’s posts on social media • Do guest posts • Become an affiliate • Hire some help – You could even hire in someone to add value to a programme you’re running if it’s not within your skill set – that way you don’t need to know everything, but can provide a great service to your clients. I did that when I first launched my Bootcamp as I knew very little about selling and got in a Sales Coach to support me in that module. Phew, what a relief!)
In today’s podcast we’ve talked about what collaboration is, some of the benefits in boosting visibility in your business, the types of things you can do, how to get started and the etiquette of collaboration – we can all get it wrong – it’s a continuous improvement process. So now I’m going to leave you with a call to action.
Time For Action: Your action this week is to connect with one person that you’d love to know more about, and find out whether longer term there might be opportunities for you to work together.
Want some group support? Come and join my free Rock Your Fabulous Biz group on Facebook.