Stop, Collaborate and Listen…then drink!

In the professional world, collaborations can be an extremely powerful partnership, designed to accomplish what no single organisation can achieve on its own. Every partner of a collaboration can be a business in it’s own right striving to successfully provide a service to their customers. However, partner that business up with someone different and they can now reach out to a new audience, provding an exciting new service and sharing the risks and rewards of their new venture. For example, an author, web developer and artist (on their own, talented individuals) could combine to create a fully interactive, online book for children, which one of them couldn’t have create on their own.

_DSC2587Now transfer this idea to a the humble Fruit Punch. On their own, ingredients such as Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice and Rum, are delicious and refreshing drinks, but put them together and an entirely new experience is created.

That’s what Cambridge Business Lounge is all about – bringing businesses into our environment to focus on their own growth and prosperity, while introducing them to other professionals that could see the birth of a whole new venture.

To celebrate this fact, Steve The Barman, Owner and Chief Shaker of Thirst First, created a cocktail at our Christmas Party in 2013 which was also present at the inaugural CBL Summer Networking BBQ – Stop, Collaborate and Listen. Here is the recipe so you can join us. Cheers!!

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

  • 35ml Rum (we used White Rum)
  • 15ml Triple Sec (or Cointreau)
  • 15ml Strawberry Liqueur
  • 15ml Grenadine
  • 75ml Orange Juice
  • 75ml Pineapple juice
  • 15ml of Vanilla Syrup
  • 2 Lime Wedges
  • 1 Strawberry

And why did we call it “Stop, Collaborate and Listen?” I’ll leave that answer to the opening line of this Vanilla Ice track….

The Value of Reciprocity in Small Business

As humans we are hard wired to, wherever possible, avoid feeling indebted to someone. For example, when invited round to friends for dinner, we are often only too aware that we now need to invite them back at some point.

In business, reciprocity is a fantastic way to help build networks and market our business. One theory of this is the “Neighbour Principle”. Picture this, you move into a new house and visit next door to borrow a bowl of sugar as you’ve run out and the shops are shut. A few days later, and following a heavy snow fall, you decide to clear your neighbours drive as well as your own.

When someone goes out of their way to help us, we can typically feel that deep routed gratitude or indebtedness, and reciprocity doesn’t have to include tangible, physical items.  Of course, not everyone likes feeling indebted, especially Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

However, as the neighbour principle is applied when starting or growing a small business, it can leverage the strengths, of those involved in the relationship, to grow both of their businesses. It’s so easy too at little or no cost. All that’s needed is an attitude of wanting to help others, followed by the idea of sharing resources, knowledge or contacts.

Remember, reciprocity and small business marketing can go together like icing and cake, but don’t expect reciprocation on its own to increase sales.  You still need to build trust to create a deep routed professional relationship and, of course, offer a quality service or product.

Start this by going to a networking event with the idea that you’re going to help someone when you get there. Whether it’s putting them in touch with someone you know will help them, or sending them a blog or news article that neatly follows the conversation you’ve had with them.

See where it takes you let me know when you have @edagoodman or info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com.

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