"To collaborate with another person is to admit weakness. There's no way of getting around it. If you weren't in a position of weakness, you wouldn't need anyone else's help. When engaging in a collaboration, you're saying, I don't know how to do this on my own. You're both saying that. You're co-failing, really. Which is the best way to start a partnership. Because along with vulnerability comes trust. And trust is everything."
Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223624#ixzz2e3jL3ASQ
It's a semantics thing - in laymen's terms
I think we don't quite understand what true collaboration is. Here are my laymen's definitions of the different words we use when we are talking about collaboration.
Mentorship - Party 1 shares successful ideas / processes / resources with Party 2. Party 2 learns how to run their business like Party 1. Party 1 is responsible for losses as a result of the mentorship.
Partnership - Party 1 and Party 2 share ideas / processes / resources. Both stand to gain when they are successful. Both parties are responsible for losses as a result of the partnership.
Collaboration - Party 1 and Party 2 share different ideas / processes / resources with each other. Both stand to gain something when they are successful. Each party is responsible for their own losses as a result of the collaboration.
Party 1 and Party 2 share different ideas / processes / resources with each other. Both stand to gain something when they are successful. Each party may or may not be responsible for their own losses as a result of the union. Both parties share what they create forever even if they no longer work together.
Oh wait... that's Marriage!
Based on my crude definitions; collaboration needs to be win, win or it is just a mentorship or unpaid consultancy. You need to have something to offer, and they need to have something to offer. The best collaboration would be where you are both bringing your best feet forward with the things you do best... because you are co-succeeding, not co-failing. For example, maybe one of you is an incredible in person networker and the other is skilled at technology and social media.
I have found collaboration to be nothing but a rewarding experience, but it is not something I enter into lightly and without great consideration. There are times when a collaboration seems like a good idea to an entrepreneur because there has been a failure and they have to do something to turn the tide. But, you, the entrepreneur, need to ask yourself if your investment of time, energy and resources would be better spent fixing what is broken first. Will what you do have to offer be enough? If so, go for it!
The most successful collaborations happen when both parties bring the full confidence in what they do best, and do it.
How do you choose a good collaboration?
- Should you collaborate with competitors? I would say only if you are going to offer different things. Collaboration doesn't have to mean remove the veil from everything. That would be a full partnership.
- Consider your current clientele. Would what your collaborator has to offer meet needs of your clients that you currently can't? Would they even be interested in it?
- Consider you future clientele. Would what your collaborator has to offer attract new clients who would also be looking for your services or product?
- Is this person ethical? Do your homework. Make sure this is someone you want your business associated with. Read testimonials and make sure that they do what they say they do.
- Is it a win, win? What do you have to offer? What do they have to offer? If the scales of equality in effort or resources seem skewed, do you stand to gain enough to be willing to be the one who puts in a little more effort or investment?
- Is it a lose, lose? How much will you have to invest to make your offerings work together in a cohesive way? How much will they? Can you afford to lose that investment if nothing happens?
- Can you measure how you are helping each other out? Both parties having an affiliate program in place that measures sales and visits to each other's websites is one of the easiest and cost effective ways to establish a working collaboration. It doesn't have to be expensive to set up either. (I would recommend using YourSoft Affiliate Software; it is inexpensive and easy to implement.)
What do you think of my definitions? Would you explain the terms differently?
What have your experiences of collaboration been?
by Rebecca LeClaire - Website Design Company Consultant and Startup, Online Business, SEO & Marketing Consultant