Partnerships and collaborations strengthen your business results when carefully planned with the right stakeholders. Have you thought who might be a good partner in your network?
As the founder of Women in Biz Network I have always seen the possibilities in partnering with like-minded businesses who share common goals and values. But communication is key – things fall apart quickly without a good plan. Be sure to know who you want to work with and why – what will everyone get out of it? A plan with clearly defined roles and expectations is key to ensuring great relationships develop and mature.
Date before you marry
The expression “date before you get married” is a great philosophy I follow when establishing shared ventures – take the time to do it right and not rush into things. Important questions you should ask yourself upfront is “Will I be just as excited by this venture in six months as I am now”? Ask difficult questions up front and be sure everyone is accountable for their role and is playing to their strengths. Free personality tests could be helpful here. Check out Strength Finders to evaluate yours.
Here are 5 ways working together can help to win business and brand recognition.
1. Finding Customers Together: One of the biggest ongoing challenges for business owners is in finding and retaining customers. Women business leaders excel in establishing good communication practices with diversity and inclusion opportunities guiding their decisions. Do you have a policy to only work with teams who have equal representation (as much as possible)? Are there possible partners you could reach out to and team up so that your marketing resources go further? Recently I worked on a press release campaign with a collaboration partner, and we were able to get our message out faster and with greater efficiency by working together.
2. Shared Lead Generation: Plan meetings with collaborators on a regular basis to discuss leads and opportunities – have a clear and actionable agenda. For example, each week I meet with one of the Women in Biz Network Mentors. She and I have expanded our business offerings to work together. After getting to know each other well, understanding each other’s strengths we can now work effectively as “collaboration partners”. Tip: Make a list of possible partners to form a strategic alliance with. Don’t worry about the how, focus first on the why. Have short meetings with possible collaboration partners and see if there is a fit. Trust your gut but back it up with evidence. Have a method to evaluate your success.
3. Hiring Talented People & Managing Workflow: Hiring and maintaining a diverse talented workforce is critical to creativity, client fulfilment and team dynamics. I love creating project plans using my favourite collaboration tools such as Sage Accounting, Microsoft Teams, Zoom (Check out their new collaboration apps), Slack, ClickUp and PickTime. The pandemic helped us to innovate new and existing tools where geographic boundaries no longer hold us back. With great tools comes even better decisions.
4. Financial Planning: Chat with collaboration partners on possibilities for innovation and cutting costs (within your shared industry). Manage cash flow by staying on top of invoices and bookkeeping especially if you are working on a shared revenue model project. Your financial accounting software, bookkeeper and accountant can help you make good decisions. If you are starting to output your resources where they’ll make the biggest impact. For example, using Sage Accounting invoicing instead of an excel invoice template that looks unprofessional and unbranded.
5. Make customers a part of your team by delivering on delight. Loyal customers spend more and will increase your word-of-mouth marketing strategy results. Be sure to have a system in place to collect email addresses and a newsletter even if you don’t do it right away. Consider surveying customers in a fun way (gamification), create easy and simple loyalty program options. The goal of your data and intelligence is to understand what your customers need from you and deliver on expectations. Be sure you have a way to communicate regularly with your customers. Consider all the important touchpoints such as social, email, events, surveying, and email marketing.
What are your favourite ways to collaborate?
Do you see the value in collaboration over competition? Share your success stories with us. Working with the right partners can make your business world less isolated and if done right it can be a lot of fun too. Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author: Leigh Mitchell is a Female Talent Recruiter/Promoter and Brand Strategist. As founder of Bee Happy HR Co. Leigh manages the client experience and builds buzz for diversity-driven brands. Bee Happy HR is proudly known as the “Queen Bees” of recruiting and retaining women within workplaces. Leigh supports business owners, busy recruiters & HR departments to provide a variety of HR and talent promotion services with a certified team of experts in her Bee Happy HR Hive. Leigh is also the founder of Women in Biz Network, she coaches clients, speaks with influential guests on her Time to Thrive Podcast, curates mentorship initiatives, promotes Women in Biz Network’s vetted diversity-driven career board, and delivers skill-building events to a variety of audiences. Leigh has worked with brands such as Microsoft Canada, SAGE, TELUS, TD Canada Trust, Staples Canada, and Chevrolet Canada throughout her career. Leigh has been featured in the CBC News, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Living, Wall Street Journal, and a speaker at numerous industry events.