How Social Media Brings The CBL Community Together

CBL TwitterSocial networks are a fantastic opportunity for small businesses to communicate and is considerably more than a sales tool. 

It also allows each business to listen to their audience, to learn from their peers, to help others and underpin their expertise, monitor their reputation and humanise their brand through engagement. There are things that we’ve got right on out social media channels, and things we’ve learnt from.

Hashtags

Our community often comes together on Twitter before, during and after key events with #CBLLive, #CBLBBQ, #StartUpCambs and more, and the hashtags allow participants to tweet before they meet, and build on many of the conversations that happen at the event.

Biscuits

More recently, our Ultimate Biscuit Challenge has brought out the passion in our community by finding the most popular biscuit in Cambridge. What’s the point? To create activity around our brand and to create awareness about our personality.  The result of which has been Cambridgeshire professionals (aka. our audience) walking through our doors to take part. Not only that, but a local training company came to view our facilities as a direct result of the #UltimateBiscuit hashtag on twitter.

Book

Late 2013, Ed was approached by Pearson Publishing to write a book. As a result, New Business: Next Steps, written with Ann Hawkins, will be published early in 2015. How did they find Ed? As a result of searching on LinkedIn.

 

Now, we’re not Social Media Consultants and there are better people to guide you through setting out your social media strategy and helping you to measure your ROI, which by the way is vital before embarking on your own social media journey. But there are many things that we’ve learnt that have worked for us. This is why Ed was asked to appear on the weekly Business Hub on Star Radio in Cambridge.

The show is available on Cambridgeshire’s Star Radio and downloadable as podcast at: http://www.starradioonline.com/podcasts/the-business-hub/

On the show with Ed, hosted BY Steve Elsom, Area Director of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and Ann Hawkins, Business Mentor and creator of The Inspired Group, is blogging expert, Yasmin Chopin.

Listen in and tell us what you think @CamBizLounge, @edagoodman and on our Facebook page.

The Art of Small Business Collaboration

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Collaboration comes from the Latin “colaborare” meaning “to labour together.” In business, it is the action of working with a group or an individual, to produce something and achieve a common goal, which would never have been achieved without that  co-operation. It’s the process of pooling knowledge, resources and relationships for the sake of pursuing shared aims, where everyone shares the reward or loss of the venture.

Bringing people and businesses together and then igniting and nurturing a collaborative effort, is something we proactively support at Cambridge Business Lounge. The opportunity for a start-up to create something fantastically new with the support of others, can speed up the process of any start-up to find their feet. As well as perfectly compliment their existing services or products.

Here are a few examples of to demonstrate how it worked for others…

Victoria Arnold, Desk Union:

We were keen to collaborate with another start-up, Desk Unions booking software, rather than buy an off the shelf package or have something developed from scratch. We identified a fellow Scottish start-up called Appointedd who had just launched an online booking software for salons and spas. Together, we co-developed Desk Union’s booking software over 3 months. The end result means an awesome affordable software for us, an opportunity for Appointedd to try white-labelling, and two happy startups. It’s a win-win! We always try to collaborate rather than reinvent the wheel.

Ann Hawkins, Business Advisor, Consultant and Mentor:

Locally, Patients Know Best is about five years old. Patients are put in control of their medical records; collaboration happens between patients, clinicians, researchers, charities, the NHS and pharma companies.

Local Motors is about six years old. They bring together global communities of designers, engineers, fabricators and automotive enthusiasts to solve local problems, locally.

Lego was failing badly in 2008 when it started collaborating with Japanese company Cuusoo to create a completely new business model.

Ann Hawkins and I are also good example of this. We’re both business mentors and although we target a different audience, there is some cross-over. So, do we steer clear of each other? Split Cambridgeshire in half? No, we decided to jointly host networking events and write a book to be published in January 2015, entitled “New Business: Next Steps. The All-in-one Guide to Managing, Marketing and Growing your Small Business”

What about you?

What skill, knowledge or resource could you add to another business, or a business bring to you, to produce a whole new offering? For example, instead of author commissioning an artist to illustrate their book, how about an artist and a writer coming together to create a graphic novel?

Can you see any collaborative opportunities that you’d like to seek out? Don’t worry if the answer is no, as many ideas are born out of ‘water cooler moments’ and just simply meeting businesses in the same situation as you can sow the seeds of new opportunities.

Collaboration is a powerful way to accomplish what no single organisation can on its own. It can also be a complex beast. Once you have found the right idea and partner, formulate what both parties bring to the project, what the shares and spoils are, and put it in writing. You’ll be glad you did if something did go amiss.

Now you need to find those potential partners. Try seeking these businesses and people out at your local coworking space, networking group or even good old social media. And once you have embarked on the exciting new journey of collaborative working, email your story to info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com or @CamBizLounge