Collaborating with other small businesses can be beneficial. They can be simple partnerships of creative endeavors. The obvious benefit is more customers but, they can also inspire creativity.
Shared Spaces and Creative Partnerships: Small Businesses Get Creative to Thrive Together
In business, we are conditioned to think about competition and fighting for space in tight markets. But perhaps you have heard the saying, “a rising tide lifts all ships.” It reflects the truth that collaboration and cooperation can help symbiotic businesses thrive together.
Collaborations and partnerships can help small businesses grow their audience, learn new skills, improve their services, and ultimately make more money and better serve their customers! These collaborations can be standard and obvious or creative and outside the box!
In Seattle, the Inter-Generational Learning Center created a shared space with a nursing home and a preschool. The kids and elderly residents thrive because of this creative business partnership. The kids can interact and learn from the senior citizens. The nursing home residents benefit socially and emotionally from the opportunity to socialize, do activities, and make crafts with the kids. The preschool workers appreciate the extra help from surrogate grandparents and the nursing home is relieved to have enriching activities that keep their residents busy and active. Thanks to this unusual business partnership, the preschool and the nursing home are thriving.
A more obvious partnership example is between Family Video and Marco’s Pizza. Back when video rental stores were still fighting for survival (before the video streaming boom), Family Video got creative and partnered with Marco’s Pizza located next door. They installed an order window between the two stores so customers could order a pizza when they arrived. By the time they finished browsing and choosing a movie, their pizza was ready! What a partnership!
Collaboration and partnerships do not need to be as big or complex as these two examples to be effective and beneficial.
Many micro-breweries open their doors to local yoga and art studios to host “pop-up” sessions during off-business hours. This is an excellent way for the various businesses to share customers and get a bit of free advertisement!
Perhaps the simplest way to develop a strategic partnership is to identify a local company you would like to share business with and agree to refer clients to each other. For example, a realtor and a handyman often make great strategic partners. New homeowners often need referrals to handymen to make repairs and upgrades around their new home. Likewise, handymen are likely called in to help prepare a home for sale and can refer the realtor.
There are many benefits to strategic partnerships and collaboration between small businesses. The most obvious benefit is more customers, but collaboration also inspires creativity and sharing of ideas, experiences, and strategies.
Some partnerships can also help reduce costs. Many small businesses do not have large budgets for advertising and other costs. Partnerships allow businesses to share advertising expenses or other costs. It can be as simple as writing guest blog posts for each other!
In short, collaboration is one of the best tools for small business owners to grow their businesses and thrive together. Partnerships and collaboration may require a bit of time and energy to cultivate, but if done correctly, they will be well worth the effort for everyone involved!