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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 07 February 2022
  • Alex Penfield

How Collaboration Can Help You Grow Your Small Business

As a small business owner, it can often feel like the weight of success is completely on your shoulders. And while we applaud your ability to juggle, if you truly hope to grow your business, it can’t be a one-man show. That’s where external collaboration comes in. Unlike outsourcing, external collaboration is a two-way street that keeps you hands-on while allowing for an exchange of ideas and services. It facilitates communication, resource sharing and connection among all parties involved. Done correctly, external collaboration can help grow your bottom line, lighten your load and improve the way you do business. Below are a few benefits to reaching outside of your small business circle.

coworkers making baked goods together

Inspiration: Connecting and communicating with people in other roles and industries can offer a fresh perspective for your small business. Exposing yourself to diverse viewpoints and observing how others approach strategy, gain new customers and grow their business may provide you with new ideas for how to operate your own venture.

Problem-Solving: Have a business obstacle you just can’t seem to overcome? Collaboration is a great way to problem-solve — sometimes all it takes is a fresh set of eyes or an extra pair of hands to help you over a hurdle. 

Increased Efficiency: While it may seem counterintuitive, bringing people into your business circle can help save resources and improve productivity, something every small business owner can get on board with. The key is to find the right collaborators for your unique business needs. Perhaps there is a vendor that can help save you time during production, or an influencer that already has a loyal audience your business can tap into? Collaborating with specialized resources can free you up to concentrate on other aspects of growing your small business.   

Now that we’ve determined a few of the ways collaboration can help grow your small business, let’s dive deeper into the types of external collaboration that may work best for your venture. The below are just a few examples of collaborations that can help expand your reach and network and help grow your small business.

Vendor Relationships: If you are in the business of selling goods or services, you may have vendors that help make your product a reality. But beyond just being a supplier, vendors can also provide you with important information, inspiration and learnings about your business and industry at large. Vendors most likely work with multiple clients within your business space, so they tend to have a solid grasp on the market. They may be able to point you toward industry standards and best practices or how competitors are handling a certain issue. Building a loyal, trusted relationship with your vendors can come in handy — they can provide you advance notice of market shifts, promotional pricing or any red flags they may see in the pipeline, especially as obstacles like supply chain issues continue to plague the small business world.

Brand Partnerships: Brand collaborations are one of the best ways to gain shared equity and build brand awareness. These partnerships can prove mutually beneficial for both entities and help build buzz about your business, particularly in markets you may not have been able to initially reach. Think outside the box with these collaborations — a brand doesn’t need to be in your exact line of work to make a successful partner. Look for brands that share similar core values, an interesting audience target or a desired geographic focus for your best chance at expanding reach and growth.

Influencers: Influencer marketing has exploded in recent years, ringing in an entirely new era of external collaboration. Influencer marketing is a relationship between a brand and an influencer, usually conducted on a social media platform. The influencer is paid, often based on the size of their following, to promote a brand’s product to their followers. This can be a great way to spread the word about your business to a younger, often tougher-to-reach demographic. TikTok is currently leading the charge when it comes to influencer collaborations — in a survey conducted by Forbes, more than half of all marketing agencies polled in 2021 said they intended to do a collaboration on the platform.

When it comes to growing your small business, the adage “two heads are better than one” often proves true. Whether it’s product innovation, increased productivity or simple problem-solving, collaboration is a great way to expand the potential of your small business. The key is finding the right collaborative partners to fit your specific needs and being open to out-of-the-box partnerships and possibilities as you work toward a more successful future for your small business.

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