It used to be that when you needed to drive somewhere, you decided the route you wanted to take got in your car and headed toward your destination. The world has changed. Now, with apps like Waze, you can chart a new course because of real-time traffic data reported to the app by drivers already on the road - a collaboration between app and driver assimilates new information that guides you along in the safest, most efficient route. Technology has given us new ways to collaborate in hopes of getting better results.
If you want to speed up your business growth, then I have a secret to share: stop doing it alone. I encourage you to source more data points when making decisions, implementing ideas, and setting goals. Solopreneurs are resourceful, self-reliant, and far too often they interpret their “do it yourself” mentality to mean “do it alone.” Collaboration means exposing your weaknesses and offering your strengths to push forward in all areas of your business. Adobe's 2017 Digital Trends Report tells us:
The message that collaboration is the way forward seems to be getting through. More than half (53%) of client-side respondents consider internal collaboration between teams and creative workflows that spread content across multiple platforms to be ‘very important’ to delivering optimal customer experiences.
I hear it all the time, “who would I collaborate with when I am only a solopreneur?” The answer is, “everyone.” In the area of collaboration, two heads are better than one. The value of perspective, experience, insight, and knowledge cannot be overstated. You have worked your entire life to earn these and every single person you encounter has earned their own abundant supply of those attributes as well. I have seen an increase my odds of success by pairing my ego, ambition, creativity, and point-of-view with another person in business. If you’re a solopreneur looking to scale your business, collaboration is the shortcut you’re looking for.
You’re awesome. You take risks your peers won’t. You’ve most likely had a few hard losses by now, probably more times than you care to count (if you haven’t, don’t worry… one is just around the corner). You are ambitious, driven, creative, and a problem solver. Your stamina is unparalleled. You work when you’re sick and exhausted, you put in long hours, and say “yes” more than you should because of an innate need to be ahead of the game. But guess what? There will always be someone out there with better ideas, more efficient processes, richer problem-solving skills, and perspectives that you miss because you are not them.
By reaching out to people and asking for input, you strengthen your cause. More data to draw from enriches your decision-making process, builds consensus, helps you adapt and can gently guide you around obstacles you may not have seen so soon in the process. If your end goal is to grow, then opening yourself up to collaborations has the potential to increase your chances of succeeding faster and on a more solid foundation than you might be able to accomplish on your own. Also, remember that collaboration is an offer to help, a sharing of resources and ideas. Everything you can take advantage of by working with others is exactly what you have to offer them.
WHO IS A POTENTIAL COLLABORATOR?
The short answer is anyone whose opinion, experience, and expertise you value. The long answer is that I look for allies both in my competition and outside of my direct industry.
I view my peers as partners rather than competitors. I reach out to other female entrepreneurs all the time, even those (and sometimes especially those) who offer the same services we offer at my digital advertising agency. Jennifer Kilkenny of Total Social Solutions is one of the leading experts in online marketing and social media management. I go work with her to glean ways to improve my approach, process, and get better results for myself and my clients. We don’t poach clients. We offer each other support and speak enthusiastically about each other in our community. We agree to help each other with each of our clients, a hands-on approach aimed at improving our businesses.
Tori Jones of Web Design Island is an excellent web designer with a business model that I had never seen before - offering clients free website updates and maintenance for life. She has mastered the art of customer service and I have grown immensely in that area because we collaborate often. Sometimes we offer direct help with each other’s clients while other times it is more indirect, implementing new systems and processes. On many occasions, we merely co-work together, occupying the same space for a full day which increases our productivity. Do what works for you.
BUILD YOUR TRIBE
Like attracts like. Nothing, in your business or life, compares to the invaluable asset of having a tribe you can count on, learn from, grow with and celebrate alongside. You will attract your people into your atmosphere if you are willing to open up and welcome them into your world.
When you find your tribe, whether they are competitors or not isn’t a major factor in determining whether you want to help each other. In sports, you will see players mentor and coach their younger teammates - athletes who are one day going to take their jobs - in order to help their team and their competition get better. There is enough business to go around for everyone. The sooner you begin to ask for help while offering it yourself, the more quickly you will see results.
Collaboration is the foundation of a relationship that can bear fruit indefinitely. Embrace the opportunity to help and be helped by those you encounter. You might be surprised at how rewarding the entire process can be.
Christina Aldan is a TEDx speaker, trainer, and digital advertising consultant whose boutique agency, LG Designs, LG Designs, offers businesses brand consulting and creative content for everyday media. With over a decade of experience in the digital advertising realm, Christina is highly regarded for her approach to business, partnering with clients to find unique strategies that ensure their advertising goals are met. Christina builds connections through her keynote addresses, workshops, and technological education. She uses these tools to help individuals and businesses cultivate value in everyday media. She is also served as Chief Marketing Officer for PrayerSpark and currently serves as Marketing Coordinator for Starmark1. Christina uses her charisma and expertise to inspire others by mentoring women in business like herself. She also sits on state and local boards supporting women in tech, entrepreneurship, and children with learning disabilities.
She is the recipient of the Las Vegas Women in Tech Community Service Award, the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award in STEM, the Stevie Award for the category of Women Helping Women, and she was voted one of the Top 100 Women in Las Vegas. Learn more at: ChristinaAldan.com.