It is a lonely affair being in business on your own or just in a small business of a few people. There is also the question of fear of other businesses in the same line, seeing them as competitors. I don’t think that is the right attitude.
Since I have been in business I have got to know many business owners who work in the same areas as I do, especially through networking, but also because I have sought them out at conferences and seminars. Of these people nine out of ten are friendly and we try to help each other with ideas. There is always the odd one who is afraid to give anything away. That is their loss.
It is incredibly useful to have others around us. I work with others in allied businesses such as bookkeepers and accountants, and this means I can provide services which I could not otherwise do, and also have more satisfied clients who get a more rounded service.
So, cooperation can lead to the big project. We always need to use our judgement as to financial risk if something goes wrong, but we do that anyway. If we are comfortable working with other business people we can manage much bigger and more profitable projects than we could on our own. It doesn’t mean we have to make long term commitments to joint ventures, though we might. It does mean we can enter into larger and more profitable projects.
Some people are afraid they will give too much away about their way of working, but that is a bit silly. Unless we have a unique piece of intellectual property, how can it matter? Do you remember those kids at your school who shielded what they were writing from supposedly prying eyes, and even from the teacher pacing around the room. I have no problem showing people what I do and how I do it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they can get to do it as well as I can, but even if they do, there is plenty of business out there. Really there is.
Working with others is satisfying. It can be very efficient too. My builder friend (he knows who he is, don’t you Trevor?) said that with many jobs it is better to send two people because one might take three days to do it whereas two might well do it in a day. Two heads are better than one as are four hands better than two, and it provides variety as well as profit.
If you get a project you think might be too big for your business, phone a friend before you turn it down. There may be a lot of satisfaction to be had as well as a lot of profit and a happy customer. Do you work that way sometimes?
I really like this post Jon. I know too many people who are scared to collaborate with others for fear of giving away some big secrets or information, but I don’t consider this as letting your guard down, more a sharing of resources to mutual benefit.
In our line of business we need to collaborate with IT people all the time, and instead of losing informaion to others we gain from mutual knowledge sharing.
Thanks,Tom. As you say,collaboration is important in learning. In working together we can get more done.