Top tips for Effective Business Collaboration

“Working in partnership” and variations of this kind of expression are everywhere!  You see it on the sides of contractors vans driving round towns for instance.  The Real Business Club has worked with all kinds of “partners” in the past.  But what does this really mean?

Here are some top tips for you, from our experience of supporting other people, as well as working as a successful and evolved partnership for over the last 6 years.  These apply if you are serious about working together.  There is a lot more of course – but here are just some top tips for effective business collaboration:

  • Each have your own self awareness of aims, skills, styles, enthusiasms, maybe even use Belbin team role preferences as a measure;
  • If you know your Myers Briggs profiles bring them – discuss them;
  • Check out your values, motives and attitudes (eg toward risk) – do they align?
  • Take real time to understand each other before putting in any money – be willing to discuss uncomfortable things;
  • Think through decision making – how will it be done, how will it be robust;
  • Start with clear communication, if there seem to be differences talk them through – don’t be afraid;
  • If you have been friends, before thinking about business together, work through the impact that the business dynamic will have – be realistic;
  • If the business involves ideas / original material then seek advice on Intellectual Property aspects;
  • Have an agreement you sign up to – especially if money is involved.

Very importantly and before any real money is put in

  • Have someone give objective coaching – have a session together with a coach who is not part of the dynamic and who can help each party think clearly.

Last week Isabel (the coaching side of The Real Business Club) was doing a coaching session with a business owner.  The owner is considering some working relationships she has and how to make the best of them.  She is thinking about quite serious matters – so it is not just a basic type of collaboration like a recommendation or a “shall we run an event together” type level.

The coaching covered considerations to make sure that the owner’s collaborations got off on the right footing.  As a summary, these included for each party to have a clear understanding of:

  • each others aims and aspirations;
  • what success looks like – and does each have the same picture?
  • how decisions are going to be made;
  • what kind of styles of communication and working each brings to the table;
  • what kind of personalities and communication styles each has;
  • what kind of roles and skills would be needed and whether working together completed them;

There are many important angles to consider financially – here are just a few:

  • what were the risks for each person in the business and what are attitudes to risk;
  • how would they put in money;
  • how would they take out money
  • how long did each have before the business had to turn to profit
  • what kind of agreement document should we have?

The Real Business Club has tools that help people explore working together and can provide experienced coaching as well as advice on agreements and documents.