Collaborations are everywhere you look, from online content to product launches and company events. It can be difficult to master all the demands of your own small business, let alone reach out to work with others, but there are many ways collaborations can give your company a boost. If you’ve been thinking of branching out to discover new opportunities, here’s how small business owners can create successful collaborative projects.
Know Your Potential Business Partners
Before you jump right into doing business with a stranger, it is crucial that you take the time to get to know them first. Do your research and learn all you can about their background, track record, and current business. Otherwise, you may pursue partnerships that aren’t actually beneficial to your company. Your competitors might have access to customers you’re trying to reach, but you don’t want competition to keep you from a successful collaboration. No collaborations are better than bad ones. A bad one can damage your budget and your reputation, scaring off both customers and also potential future collaborators. Think outside the box and consider individuals in different industries whose audiences share an overlap with yours.
Give Before You Take
You can take the cold email approach and contact individuals or companies with a brief explanation of who you are and why you think a collaboration would be successful, but there are better ways to start a working relationship. Start by interacting with social media pages of people you’d like to learn more about and potentially work with. Give a like, share, or post a comment. It’s much easier to approach someone you’re mutuals with once you’ve already developed a rapport. Take the time to learn about their goals and see if you’ll be a good fit. For example, if they have an interest in the latest business trends, you can offer to meet and brainstorm ideas after compiling some research.
It may be tempting to jump into a big, expensive project, but there’s no rush. To make sure you’re a good fit together, try inviting them to guest post on your website, blog, or social media pages. You can also host a giveaway. This is a low-pressure, low-cost test to see how your personalities mesh and how your audience receives them. Are they prompt about responding to emails or comments? Do they deliver what they promise they will? Do they accept constructive criticism or do they push back the second something doesn’t go their way? Be brutal when analyzing your data to make sure the effort is worth the result. If it’s clear their audience isn’t as engaged as yours is, this doesn’t mean you should immediately back out of future opportunities. In fact, smaller creators are often excellent for collaborations because they’re invested in growth and networking.
Pool Your Resources
Once you’re confident about your choice of collaborator and you’ve given your partnership a test run, it can feel like the possibilities are endless. If you fully trust the person you’re working with, you might be able to pool your resources for a project you wouldn’t be able to afford alone. You’ll want to have solid paperwork in place to make sure everyone is protected and that your goals align.
Launch a Product
Once you’ve both set your expectations, don’t be afraid to get creative. Consider launching a product or even a line of products together. You can make these items limited edition to encourage your customers to buy while they can. If your customers are also fans of your collaborators, they’ll be more likely to invest in what you’re offering.
The idea of collaborating can be intimidating, especially if you want to reach out to someone more successful than you, but you never know what opportunities will arise if you don’t try. Be upfront about your goals and ambitions, foster good working relationships, and keep your audience’s needs in mind to spur growth for your company.