How to Collaborate Creatively
Collaboration is trending! The rise of startups in the past few years puts a lot of businesses on equal footings. Client-vendor relationships are slowly being replaced by mutual symbioses in the forms of cobranding and coworking. Let’s take a closer look at this trend and learn how to master it.
Why collaboration is so trending
Collaboration is a product of limitations. Many businesses nowadays are targeting niche markets. While they are quite easy to jump start, it can be challenging to expand this kind of business based on such specific audience and capabilities.
Instead of being discouraged, many turn them into oppurtunities.
Collaboration is a way to break through limitations by borrowing certain things from and lending some of one’s own to another business.
Creative Collaboration is this year’s Ideafest theme. Image courtesy of Ideafest.
This also applies for established businesses. In one of our past articles, we mentioned that collaboration is the new competition. It allows competitors to know where each of them stands in the market and to learn how one can expand without having direct competitions.
People are gradually shifting from the common capitalist way of business to more organic relationships.
Plaza Desain 2017 by Binus School of Design featured a talk show that covered collaboration trend among other things.
What we achieve by collaborating
While most businesses come together with a joint product or service as the goal, the benefits go beyond that. Let’s start with the obvious:
1. Innovative products and services
New resources and capabilities when combined with your own can result in a large number of possibilities to be explored together. It also allows you to explore new niche markets that were unheard of.
2. More audience
Aside from creating new niche markets, you’re also gaining exposure to a broader range of audience. Each party gets a chance to introduce their existing products or services to the other’s following through joint products/services and events.
It's interesting to see how a joint project between Disney and Lima Watch allows them to gain access to a broad audience and a niche market at the same time. Image courtesy of Disney and Lima Watch.
3. Consumer database and insights
These are two things that are becoming more and more recognized for their true value these days. Exchanging them with a collaborator is a smart move for your business as well as theirs.
4. Self focus
Working with unreliable, sub-par vendors without a proper sense of responsibility can prove to be an exhausting experience. Having a trusted collaborator who is good at what they do and has as much at stake as you do allows you to refocus on your business what you do best.
During the development our 2016 and 2017 calendars with paper suppliers and printing companies, we learn that the best result comes when collaborators really trust each other while being able to focus on their own expertise.
Choosing the right collaborator
As most relationships go, you look for people who are inspiring, trustworthy and compatible.
You don’t meet them and talk business right away. Get to know them on a personal level and ask questions to find out if their visions, values, inspirations and aspirations match those of yours.
Debora Gondokusumo, founder of Herbilogy mentioned a great trick she always does when deciding on a future collaborator: a double date dinner. Seeing how they interact with their spouse allows you to get a real sense of what your collaboration dynamics would be like.
When things feel light and right, that’s when you know that you’ve found the perfect match.
Ensuring a great collaboration
Here are a couple of ways to make sure that a collaborative relationship kicks off nicely to a smooth, long run:
1. Have a win-win mindset
It’s important to establish right from the start that how much each party benefit from the scheme is not the top priority. If it’s doable and both can benefit from it, that’s enough reason to continue.
2. Manage your expectations
Keep in mind that a few bumps might happen along the way, and they’re perfectly fine as long as you are both still going to the same direction.
When problems arise, address them in a nice manner while being as honest as possible and exercising offers.
Playing the blame game won’t do anyone any good. Instead, focus your energy on finding solutions together. Keep each other in the loop because good communication produces the best decisions.
If things still don’t go very well, part ways amicably and take it as a learning experience.
A lot can go wrong in a web series collaborative production, but the alliance stays strong. Image courtesy of Bridestory and AVENU Indonesia.
3. Make it sustainable
Instead of scattering your focus on finding other partners, leverage on existing relationships. Make time for an open communication and keep exploring how to help each other out regularly.
For established businesses or when startups grow larger and less nimble, the role of forming new collaborations and keeping existing ones intact might be handed over to an officer, whom personal values might differ from the owner’s.
Hence the importance of knowing a company’s core values and incorporating them into the system to be practised all the way to the bottom. By doing these things, every extended hand will have the same principles that enables strong alliances and unlimited reach.
Need some guidance on establishing your core values? Here’s an article that might be of help: /blog/the-12-step-startup-checklist/
We are open to any kind of collaboration. Drop us a message and let’s explore the possibilities!