Posts Tagged ‘business alliances’

Coopetition can be profitable

One of the things you may want to consider to help get through tough times or any times is co-operating with others in your market niche more than you compete with them.  Sometimes, contrary to what we may think, if we join forces with people who provide similar services to our own, we can increase market reach and broaden service offerings to everyone’s benefit.  And that can be better than trying to go it alone.

Common sense rules

Now, I’m not suggesting that you get in bed with someone who keeps knives under the pillow, nor that you share your client lists and trade secrets.  Obviously, common sense has to rule.  But there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that, properly executed, particularly in times like these, co-operation can be as healthy – or even healthier – to a business than competition.  This is a time-honoured practice in many large corporations, where it’s referred to as co-opetition, and it’s a concept I like very much.

How this can work

Let me give you an example of how this can work.  I’ve known Helen and Keith, a marketing duo, for about six years now and while we’ve talked about working together in the past we’ve never actually pursued the idea.  That is, until we had a very propitious conversation last November.  That’s when I suggested that if they ever had clients who required presentation or media training I’d be happy to help them out.  In return, if I had clients whose needs exceeded my resources, I’d contact them. Keith smiled.  “As a matter of fact, I have a client who could use some media training.  We don’t really get into that, so I’ll have him contact you.”

Everyone’s a winner

A few days later I was hired for a half-day media training session and that session has led to more training and writing assignments.  And I expect my work with this client to continue for some time.  I’m happy, the client’s happy and Keith and Helen are happy because it reflects well on them.  Everyone’s a winner and Keith, Helen and I are keeping our eyes open for other areas where we can increase value to clients by working together.  It makes sense – and it’s profitable.

A few ground rules

I should point out here that we established a few ground rules before we began.  First, we agreed on a finder’s fee that ensures that whoever brings in the business is adequately rewarded.  Then we agreed we would continue to operate as independent consultants on this and future projects unless it made more sense for one of us to report to the other.  We also agreed not to encroach on service offerings that were already being provided by the other party.  I think we have a pretty good understanding of who does what and under what circumstances.  And of course, we’re both open to discussing modifications to suit new situations that may present themselves.

Don’t struggle

I know partnering, particularly with competitors, can be fraught with pitfalls.  Been there; done that.  But let’s face it, we all have areas where we excel and others where we have to struggle to meet client needs.  And one thing I’ve learned over the years is don’t struggle if you don’t have to.  It consumes valuable time and energy – and can cost you a client.

Open yourself to possibilities

It makes more sense to contact someone who does similar work to what you do and share the contract with that person rather than trying to do it all yourself. And it makes even more sense to align yourself in advance with several of your colleagues to invite them to join you in some healthy co-opetition on an ongoing basis.  You don’t have to give up your independence.  You don’t have to invest any cash.  You don’t have to share any secrets.  You just need to open yourself to some possibilities.

It makes sense

It’s not a cure-all but it makes sense to me, particularly in tough times, to look for alliances that promote both parties.  It’s been profitable for me and I recommend that you consider it as well.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

This could have been avoided. . .

My heart goes out to Chris Neary. He’s the guy who got busted for carrying 15 kilos of marijuana, in a pack sack, across the border from Canada to the United States.

He was a business man

He wasn’t a smuggler. He was a small business man but his business wasn’t doing well. He became isolated from his friends and associates and, in his own words he was desperate, isolated and totally uniformed about what he was getting himself into. He said he didn’t ask anyone’s opinion about the wisdom of what he was doing. He just did it. Here’s a quote: “I felt it was up to me to turn things around and I tried to do everything myself. My ego took me to the top of the mountain literally.”

A lesson for all of us

Now, Chris has a lesson for all of us who are in business for ourselves. He fell into the classic small business trap of ‘I have to do it myself’ and this can lead to colossal failure and incredibly bad decisions. I know. I’ve made a few of them myself, and no, I never smuggled marijuana but I’ve done some awfully silly things in my small business that a colleague could have advised me against.

I’ve written about this

I’m just embarking on a small business alliance with another person who also provides communications services.  We don’t compete directly, although I suppose we could.  But it makes a lot more sense to support each other with business alliances.

We’re coaching each other

Here’s what we’re doing. We’re developing strategic plans for each of our businesses and we’re coaching each other to ensure that we follow our individual plans.  And when that gets rolling smoothly, we’re going to analyze how our individual pursuits can benefit both parties.

We both have challenges

She has different strengths than I have. I have different strengths than she has.  And of course, we both have our challenges.  Having done it on my own for many years, I welcome this affiliation.  Even though I’ve developed strategic partnerships in the past that fizzled and died, I really think this one is going to work.  I know from experience how difficult it can be to find the right person to work with you but when you can finally put it together the synergy is well worth the effort.

Develop strategic arrangements

If you’re a small business person who’s trying to do it all themselves, I urge you – stop doing this.  I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of aligning yourself with other people who can balance your challenges and who can benefit from your strengths. And you don’t have to limit yourself to one strategic partnership.  You can develop strategic arrangements with a wide group of people who have similar value.  If you find people you can align yourself with, who can help you to move forward while you help them to move forward, you’ll both benefit immeasurably.
What kind of strategic arrangements do you have in place?  How’s it working for you?  Tell us all about it.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.