The question of whether it is better to go it alone or to collaborate with others when setting up a business is both real and important for potential entrepreneurs.
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely journey. Starting and managing a business alone can be daunting at times, especially if you don’t have the support of a team and have to make all the tough decisions on your own.
Often, the best way to get ahead of the competition is to team up with like-minded entrepreneurs. Here are some of the pros and cons of collaboration and how to find your perfect match.
What is collaboration?
Collaboration is the sharing of resources to achieve mutual goals. The internet has made it possible for us to share ideas across continents and time zones – so there are few challenges stopping you from partnering with another business across the country or globe.
The pros and benefits
Sharing the load
By coming together, you can benefit from companionship and support. Having a partner may not only make you more productive, but it may afford you the ease and flexibility to pursue more business opportunities and take time off when needed. After all, as a one-man band, you have to decide where you choose to focus your time and talents.
Fresh knowledge, skills, experience and contacts
Each entrepreneur has their own expertise, knowledge, set of skills, experience, and contacts to bring to a collaboration. This opens up new avenues for improving your services and offers, extends your reach for new business opportunities and ultimately gives your business a better chance of success.
Cross-pollination of creative input
When you join forces with other entrepreneurs, you are able to tap into the different creative resources of each merchant instead of relying on one individual method. Teaming up with someone, even outside of your industry will expose you to other types of innovation in business and showcase how each business does things differently. The collection of contrasting ideas means new approaches can be brainstormed, which often leads to greater innovation. This also brings a better balance in the forward movement of your business.
Your company will benefit from the unique perspective brought by another trader. In business, often two heads are better than one. With a collaboration partner, together you may even help each other find a solution to any stumbling blocks. This also brings a better balance in the forward movement of your business. The benefits of removing bias within each decision tend to make collaboration a positive process.
The power of mentorship
Only a fellow entrepreneur can truly understand what you go through. When spending time with and working with other business owners you can use this experience to discover tips and tricks of the trade or simply just offer each other a word of advice or support through trying times. If mentorship is what you or a team member are needing more of, then you may want to reach out to and explore a coworking community.
Music to any business person’s ears! Collaborating can allow you to share the financial expenses and expenditures needed to run the business, or project expenses. Some teams may have programmes, skills and offerings that you would usually need to outsource. When the work is shared to the specialisation of each party, this can only result in more substantial savings than by going it alone.
Cons and disadvantages
Conflict of interest
Not all projects need multiple collaborators. In deciding when to collaborate and when to keep a project in house, consider whether or not you are able to effectively deliver on the brief without a third party. Determine which proposals would benefit from different perspectives. If you are not strategic about who does what, you may experience a conflict amongst partners or even a conflict of interest in shared work.
Competing instead of collaborating
Healthy competition drives innovation and excellence, but many don’t understand the difference between collaborating and competing. If you are entering into a collaborative project, it may be the case that you and some of the other partners offer some of the same services or products. Be sure to clearly define deliverables, expectations, and an understanding of who the dedicated project lead is. This is key for the end-user experience.
Conflicts in Working Styles
We all have different ways of doing things and this also rings true in the working world. When we think about how digitised our working world is, we have to appreciate that when we collaborate there will be different preferences for software and formatting.
Additionally, you will need to keep in mind that your partners may already have their own processes in place. This is one of the challenging aspects of collaboration because it can hold up progress caused by the different approaches to get the job done.
Sometimes emotions can run high causing relationships to sour. To avoid differences within the collective, make sure you address the process flow ahead of starting on the work.
There are many positive reasons to enter into collaboration with other entrepreneurs. When you collaborate you can look forward to many new opportunities to grow your business and your reputation in your field. There will be teething issues along the way, but with the right approach, you can only benefit from making your circle a bit bigger.
In the end, it is the business owner’s choice if they want to ride solo or collaborate with someone just like them. The best way to make this decision is by weighing up the pros and cons and choosing which side of the spectrum is favourable to the success of the business.