In today’s issue, I want to show you the three main reasons why collaboration is crucial to your success and how teaming up helps you to accelerate your business.
Collaboration can give you a head start for starting your business, and it drastically improves the speed with which your business develops.
At the end of this article, you’ll have gained a broader perspective on with whom you can collaborate and why your competition can be your best partner.
Collaboration Is Necessary to Win in the Long Run
You might know the saying: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.”
If I were to adapt this saying to founding a business, it would go more like this:
“If you want to work a lot, work alone. If you want to work towards your goals, work together.”
There are several aspects to collaboration, which are crucial to how you can leverage it. You will discover the answers to these questions:
- Why is collaboration as necessary as competition?
- Who can you collaborate with?
- What can you collaborate on?
In the end, collaboration has always enabled us humans to overcome the biggest challenges we ever faced as a civilisation. Whether it’s exploring space, fighting diseases and hunger, or stopping climate change. None of it would be possible without collaboration between human beings.
Competition and Collaboration Are Two Pieces of the Same Puzzle
When you are trying to solve a problem for the first time, like creating a multi-use cutlery-to-go service, there is no competition. If you are trying to create the first solar cells or the first nuclear fusion reactor, there is no one to compete against – but the problem itself.
So, in most cases, competition is not the primary enemy of a startup, but finding a way to solve the problem you want to solve. Especially in the field of sustainability, developing innovative solutions can be a heavy task. While some software-as-a-service product can be developed or prototyped easily, hardware is a different story. Simply developing a first prototype can cost hundreds of thousands of Euros. A partner with more resources and experience in your field of products, can accelerate your development and alleviate some of the cost.
But upfront investment costs for product development are not the only hurdle, one must overcome in the beginning of a startup.
Acquiring your first customers is easier, if they already are customers of your partner.
Bouncing ideas back and forth for product development, marketing, pricing, and general business tasks is easier if you have sparring partners who have been in your (rough) line of business.
Competition will always be there, and their existence will help you to stay focused on your customers and improve on your solution to provide the most value.
But we are impact entrepreneurs. Every competitor is someone with a similar vision as ours. They want to achieve the potential impact as much as you do if you are working on the same things.
This makes impact entrepreneurs better suited for collaboration than any other type of entrepreneur. If your primary goal is maximising the positive impact in the world instead of just maximising your own market share, you and your competitors have a common goal.
So why not collaborate?
You Can Collaborate With More People Than You Think
When I founded my first startup, we participated in an incubator called “Better Together” by the Impact Hub Berlin, a co-working space and global network of impact entrepreneurs is all fields.
One of the core pillars of the program was that we can all learn from each other and use each other’s expertise to achieve more impact more rapidly.
And when we started brainstorming who we can collaborate with, people produced many ideas, including but not limited to:
- Intermediaries, like dealerships or craftspeople
- regional startup support systems
and many more.
But it took us some time to realise, that you can also collaborate with those who look like competitors on first sight.
Most people are happy to share their knowledge and experiences when it comes to market validation and understanding customers.
When we worked on a gadget that could show you how green electricity is in you grid right now, we reached out to another startup who did something similar with an app.
And the call we had with their founder was most insightful and helped us to better understand our problem space and to avoid wasting time on something which had so many obstacles we couldn’t see.
Collaborators can take many forms. As can the type of collaboration you choose.
Collaboration Can Be Whatever You Need
When you are just starting out, there are so many things to do and keep track of. Talking to your customers, developing solutions, validating problems, marketing your product, sales, research, accounting, bureaucracy, … and so much more.
Ask for help.
There are so many people out there who went through the same shit as you will be going. Look for people who are teaching what they know, like Arvid Kahl or Justin Welsh, and learn from their experience. Many of these entrepreneurs, offer mentoring and consulting for startups like yours.
I do to. And if you want to learn from my previous mistakes, check out this article: Top 5 Startup Mistakes Impact Founders Should Avoid
If you need help with building your first MVP or with finding your first customers, reach out to me and we will find a way to boost your success and save you a lot of time and money on your way to market!
But the real opportunity for collaboration starts when things start rolling.
You might have an excellent product idea, which you already validated, but you cannot develop it yourself. Find a partner. There are many awesome developers out there who are just waiting to team up with a visionary partner.
And if you have a product ready, but selling it is giving you a tough time, this might be the right moment to look for an existing player in your industry who could distribute your product through existing channels.
And if you are working on a hard problem and might be hitting a wall, look around. There will be others who are trying the same thing but hit the same wall. Maybe, they already figured it out, but are struggling with something that you are particularly good at. Together, you might be able to find a way around – and forward.
Often, working on one thing opens many more opportunities on which you could spend your time to build a business. However, focusing on the one thing your business exists for is crucial to your success. But it also opens opportunities to collaborate with someone whose business is focusing on one of the other opportunities at the side. Team up and generate even more value for your customers!
- Only through collaboration are we able to achieve the best results
- Collaboration and competition are no opposites, but complement each other
- You can find collaborators in every piece of your business
- Whatever you want, collaboration can make it easier to achieve
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