5 critical elements to an effective collaboration

As an Executive Virtual Assistant, I appreciate only too well the benefits of well matched professional collaborations; not just with my clients but also with fellow Virtual Assistants.  The blog below deftly outlines five ways to ensure such collaborations are both effective and meaningful.

Guest blog by A.Michelle Blakeley, Founder and CEO of Simplicity,

Successful businesses are built on collaborations;
functional collaborations.  No business
can survive without establishing and developing powerful relationships with
like-minded business owners. Even the most marketable products and services
need outside forces and influences to reach their target market and achieve
optimum sales results.

However, there is a method to developing effective
collaborations. You simply cannot connect, partner and venture into business
with any business. Whether you are a ‘solopreneur’ or have a small staff, your
ability to effectively create collaborations is crucial to your business
success. You need to know who to connect with, what value you each bring to the
table, what are the terms and how will you keep the communication lines open.

Here are 5 ways to ensure your collaborations are effective
and meaningful:

1. Power partner: Select business owners who have products
or services that compliment yours and have the client base you are looking for.
Their mindset, motivations, visions and business practices should also be
compatible with yours. Don’t be afraid to approach someone who is already at
your next level. If your product or service is strong enough, it could be an
opportunity for you to expand.

2. Determine the value and incentives: Know what you can and
can’t bring to the table. Know what is expected of you and what you expect of
your partner(s). Determine the benefits of the collaboration and are they
aligned with your values. Never sacrifice the integrity of your business for a

3. Spell it out in black and white: Collaborations really
should be in writing. Having your terms and agreement in writing will help
eliminate any misunderstandings or miscommunications. Knowing who is
responsible for what will set the boundaries of your relationship.

4. Client sharing and management (follow-up): You want to
expand your client base while maintaining your identity. Remain separate, but
equal. How are referrals handled? What is the process for contacting referrals?
Is there a referral fee involved? It’s okay to share client databases; but be
sure you have an established follow-up system for handling each other’s
clients. Your clients should receive and expect the same quality and level of
service from your partner.

5. Communication: Be sure to schedule regular meetings to
review your collaborative relationships, make necessary adjustments and outline
growth strategies.

It’s important to remember that in collaborations, your
partner’s success depends on your success and vice versa. Having a formal
collaborative partnership could make all the difference for your business. No
business owner is an island. Savvy business owners and entrepreneurs know when
to ask for help and know how to leverage their product or services.

A.Michelle Blakeley is the Founder and CEO of Simplicity,
Inc.; a progressive small business development firm. She manages her clients’
business expectations and prevents information overload via Micro Business
Therapy™ and Micro Business Action Plans.  She
is featured in Forbes.com as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter
and the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on www.BlogTalkRadio.com

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