One of my favorite quotes of all time is ‘Girls compete, women empower’ and I’m a firm believer that when women work together, incredible things can happen. We can achieve so much more when we raise each other up rather than bashing each other down. The problem is, when everyone is trying to break through the noise and make their mark, it’s easy to think of the competition as a threat to our success. It’s too easy to become trapped in a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, believing that there isn’t enough room for all of us and that we need to battle against one another to get ahead.
Whilst a little competition is a good thing as it keeps us motivated and keeps us upping our game, working together rather than against each other is an incredibly powerful tactic that can benefit you both. When I first started my business as a coach, it was daunting to realize just how saturated my niche was. Instead of feeling threatened, I used the situation to my advantage. Rather than viewing my competitors as rivals, I began to view them as teammates and decided to reach out to these prospective allies in order for us to join forces. Through collaborating with other female entrepreneurs in my niche, I’ve been able to take my business to a whole new level far quicker than I would have been able to alone.
There are so many ways in which you can form mutually beneficial partnerships, but here are a few of my favorite ways to collaborate with other entrepreneurs:
1. Cross promote each other
Cross promoting each other either on your blog/website or your social media platforms is a great way for you to grow both your audiences.
If you both have a similar target audience, promoting each other is a no brainer as you are essentially getting free advertising to exactly the people you want to reach. It’s a really efficient way of promoting yourself without having to pay for targeted ads.
I think many people don’t do this often enough as they worry far too much that promoting another brand/business will drive away their own audience into the hands of the competition. In reality, however, this is mostly going to benefit you both.
Why? Because we humans love variety and as a result, there is room for us all to succeed. How many of us only ever buy the same brand of shoes or the same type of cereal. We like to mix things up. If someone likes our ‘competitor’, chances are they will like us too. Partnerships don’t drive away your popularity, they boost it.
Also, by promoting someone who is in your exact niche demonstrates the confidence you have in your own business. Being able to give credit to a competitor shows that you are self assured enough to not feel threatened by the competition and that you know your own worth.
Whilst cross promoting other businesses too much can dilute your own brand message, the occasional strategic mutual promotion with another entrepreneur is an amazing way to expand your audience.
2. Hold an event together
Holding an event is an effective method for you to grow your business as an individual, especially within your local community. What is far more impactful than going it alone, however, is if you are able to hold a joint event with another entrepreneur. By doing so, you will both be able to utilize your own individual connections and platforms to spread the word of the event.
Holding events can be a lot of work and can be a huge burden on your time, time you may not necessarily have if you are running a business too. Holding the event with someone else spreads the workload and makes the whole thing far more manageable. Plus, you are more likely to come up with far more ideas working together than you would individually.
The person you choose to hold an event with could either be within your niche or have a similar audience. The point is to ensure that you are both getting something of value from holding the event.
3. Work together on a product
I’m a firm believer in the idea that two creative minds are far better than one and working together on a particular product is a great way to create something that is not only mind blowing but has the potential to reach a far larger market.
Again, it comes back to the idea of sharing your audience. If you both already have your own solid fan base, why not create a product together that appeal to both groups.
Think about what a partner could add in terms of skills and expertise and what you could contribute in return. Try and find someone to collaborate with who can add something new into the mix and think about what makes you unique that you could also bring to the table.
Collaboration on products works really well across a huge range of industries and you don’t have to be in the same industry for it to work.
As a starting point, research some product collaborations within your niche. For example, within my niche of online business coaching there are many online courses available where female entrepreneurs have teamed up with someone else in the same industry to produce a course together. I’ve also seen examples of amazing collaborations in the fitness industry where health and fitness bloggers have teamed up to create a fitness clothing line. The options are endless if you just use your imagination.
4. Form a mastermind group
A mastermind group is an amazing opportunity to bounce ideas around, share tips and keep each other accountable. Whilst forming a mastermind with other entrepreneurs within your niche is the obvious option, don’t underestimate the power of networking with entrepreneurs in an entirely different field. Some of the most valuable advice I have received since starting my business has come from women in entirely different industries to what I am in.
Meetup.com is a great place to meet up with other entrepreneurs. Twitter chats or Facebook groups are other options if you’d prefer to keep the get together online.
Ideally, you want to form a group with people who are on a similar level or slightly ahead of where you are. Everyone needs to be able to get some sort of valuable out of the mastermind and it is unlikely to work in the long run if you’ve a select few that are able to bring far more to the conversation in terms of expertise and experience.
It’s very rare that as business women (and as humans in general) we are good at everything. Whilst there will be some things that we excel at, there will be other stuff that we can’t figure out or get our heads around.
Swapping skills with another entrepreneur is a great way to share your own expertise whilst also getting help in areas that you may find difficult.
For example, you may be terrible at Photoshop but a really great writer, whilst another entrepreneur may be amazing with editing photos yet really struggles getting blog posts published.
Collaborating via a skill swap is perfect for a new entrepreneur who may not have a huge budget to spend to pay for professional help. It’s amazing the amount of people who are receptive of swapping skills so don’t be afraid of asking. The worst they can say is no, right?
6. Guest blogging
Blogging is an incredible way to define your authority within your niche and whilst writing articles for your own site is a great way to market yourself and attract your ideal audience, guest blogging on other platforms is a powerful way to get you and your business out there.
Whilst many people set their sites high when it comes to guest blogging, aiming for publications such as The Huffington Post or Forbes, it’s easy to underestimate the power that smaller blogs/websites can have. More often than not, personal blogs/niche sites have a well defined and highly engaged audience that if you can connect with, could do wonders for your own business too.
In return, you could ask the owner of the business/blog to guest post for your site too. By doing so, you are adding another voice to your blogging platform and it adds variety to your site.
Guest blogging has recently become a big part of my strategy. In inviting guest bloggers to contribute to my site, not only have I added a great deal of variety in terms of expertise and experiences but I’ve seen traffic to my own site and my own client base grow dramatically as a result of guest blogging on their site too.
Whilst all of the ideas for collaboration I’ve listed above are no doubt great for growing a business, one of the best things I have gained out of joint projects is actually the amazing women I’ve made friends with along the way.
Recently, I’ve discovered how important having friends in business really is and I’m sure it is the case for many solopreneurs. Many women like myself enter the business world having left an office environment only to find that the early stages of business can be a very lonely place. Gone is the office gossip and support network and instead, we often find we spend most of our time alone with our laptop. Whilst collaborating makes business sense, it also makes sense for our sanity too. Just having someone else to talk with who is going through the same thing as you can often be a million times more valuable than your next sale. A vital element of success is a strong network of support and whilst we can always rely on friends and family to be there for us, having someone who really understands the environment in which we work has such immense value.
With that, I urge you to start forming more connections with other entrepreneurs. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. It sometimes takes just one quick email, which can then open up a whole world of possibilities.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]