Collaboration in business can be one of the best decisions you make.

Collaborating with the right champions and partners can advance your business, make it scalable faster, increase your reach and influence, and help you make a bigger impact or difference in the world.

At Raise a Dream, Rebecca and I hear success stories all the time from entrepreneurs who found the right partners and sponsors to collaborate with and where the results could never have been achieved on their own. These successes typically include collaborations where a relationship and trust has been built and nurtured, communication is strong, and where there is a shared vision and agreement about how the partners (and collaboration) will work together.

Sadly, we hear lots of stories on the opposite end of the spectrum… collaborations gone sideways or… worse, fallen apart. Perhaps what saddens us the most in hearing these stories is that relationships were often destroyed and a business suffers, which means the entrepreneurs suffer (and so does their family and the impact they want want to make in the world).

The Right Approach to Collaboration:  

Here are some suggestions from Rebecca and I about how to build collaborations right from the start so there are no pieces to pick up.

  1. Choose the right partners. Your best partner may not be your best friend; it may be someone you have never met but with whom you have the same vision and complementary strengths. This was the case with Rebecca and I and how Raise a Dream was formed. Our business coach knew us both and connected us. The rest is an amazing history (or do we say HERstory)!
  2. Have a plan and ink the plan. Collaborations typically result in high level energy, inspiring ideas, and a big vision. Ensure you work together to create the vision and plan, highlight the priorities, and monitor the plan as you go.
  3. Communicate clearly. Communicate often. Communication is one of the most common reasons that collaborations fall apart. Assumptions get made or communication is missed completely.    
  4. Have collaboration partner meetings. There is a tendency to get caught up and swept away by the details and the many tasks involved in running a business and launching a collaborative dream. Ensure you take time to meet not only about the urgent and emergent needs, but also for long-term future planning.
  5. Build FUN into the agreement. This was one of the priorities that Rebecca and I agreed on from the onset. Now that doesn’t mean all tasks and every step of the business path is fun, but it is important to make sure that the process brings some joy, satisfaction, and FUN!
  6. Learn from others. Watch how other businesses and collaborations work. Consider what the partners are doing to work together and explore where these attributes can assist you with your collaborative endeavours.
  7. Do “Review and Learn” processes. As your business and collaboration grows, ensure you take time to conduct “Review and Learn” processes (e.g. after a launch, an event, etc.). The questions that we use are a) What worked well? b) What was a challenge? c) What did you/we learn? And d) what will we/I do differently next time?

Remember, it takes teamwork to make the dream work!

As you build your collaborations, remember to choose the right partners, agree on the vision, create a plan (and review it regularly), communicate effectively and often, and nurture the relationship… all at the same time as you are having some fun!

Charmaine Hammond and Rebecca Kirstein, Raise a Dream