Monday, September 03, 2012

Collaboration vs. Competition

When I worked as a community developer, much of my job was to bring agencies and organizations together to look at combined efforts to resolve community issues.

Much of the time it worked, because while there were sometimes funding or territorial issues, most non-profit organizations shared the same values and tended to look at what was best for the client, rather than getting into who “owned” the client.  Our focus was to take a holistic approach to the family and their problems.

It isn’t quite that simple in the private sector as business owners are always looking at the bottom line and there is an element of WIFM (what is in it for me).  Certainly it needs to be a win-win situation for all the parties involved, but when you take an abundance approach and try to work together, the end result is far-reaching.

I’ve always believed in the value of collaboration because when you pool efforts and talents, you can both be successful, and more to the point, the client benefits.

But it is not always that easy, and sometimes I have leapt into partnerships that have backfired down the road because we hadn’t clarified our end goals or how we would achieve them.  Much of the time, in hindsight, we also didn’t share the same values which is crucial to any business relationship.

That’s why I am so excited about Company of Women’s new partnership with Women in Biz Network.  Not only do Leigh Mitchell, Founder of Women in Biz Network and I share the same values, but we are both driven to helping our members succeed.  And while Leigh and I could get a tad carried away in our altruistic efforts, her partner Fay Chappele keeps us grounded and focused on the bottom line. 

By combining our efforts, we will provide even more services and benefits to our now 400+ members but there is also an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to network and meet up with more seasoned business owners.  We can all learn from each other.   

We also bring different skill sets to the partnership, meaning that between the three of us, we can reach further and potentially achieve success much faster, than if we slogged away on our own.  The key is we respect each other and recognize the expertise that each brings to the table.

Now admittedly we are in the “honeymoon” stage but I have a good vibe about this one and with all the lessons I have learned (the hard way) in the past, I am confident it is going to work, and if it works for us, it most definitely will benefit and work for you.

And talking of you, who could you partner up with?  Is there someone in your sector with whom you could cross-promote? Is there the potential of working together?  Perhaps there is a joint project you could work on as you build trust and become comfortable with each other. When you are both targeting the same client group, it can be more fruitful to combine your efforts.

As Helen Keller said “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.”

No comments: