Small Business Talk

The Podcast to Grow your Business Faster

The Power of a Collaborative Community to Grow Small Business

Show Notes

Background

Lyn Hawkins is the National Director of Business Women Australia (BWA) and has a lifetime of experience helping businesses grow. She grew up with a family business in fashion retail and after graduating from university, enjoyed an impressive corporate career plus established her own successful entrepreneurial ventures. Lyn’s business experience includes senior executive roles with Telstra, KPMG, HHG Legal Group, Diverse IT, Broadreach Communications and HLB Mann Judd. In addition to her role as a National Director of BWA, Lyn has a successful consulting practice.

Typical of her desire to help others, Lyn “gives back” in many ways. She has been on a variety of boards and has been a mentor for undergrad students with the UWA Career Mentor Link since 2013.

Where should we be looking to collaborate?

Your business and the target market you’re working in and trying to engage with determines where you should be collaborating. Good collaborations and the best alliances are those that have a similar business strategy and are trying to attract, retain, and develop a similar market to yours.

Who should we be collaborating with?

It’s important to collaborate with those who have the same values and are as like-minded as you. If you’ve identified there’s a range of organisations and people within those organisations who are potential allies or potential collaborators, the idea is to go out, meet with people, get a feeling for how they operate, talk about your values, find out and test them on their ideas and try out some small things together. By doing this, you work out very quickly if your values align.

Conversation is the key

Conversation is a great way to determine if an organisation or person would be the ideal fit for you to collaborate with. From my experience, and I know this is the case with others too, they don’t have enough conversation at the beginning to really get an understanding if there’s a good connection and an alliance of the mind and the heart.

Values

If values don’t align with those you collaborate with, an alliance can form and you then find yourself trying to unravel it because there’s different values, judgements, a sense of purpose and style of operating. If you’re not careful, this can cause damage in the long run. A completely different value set can cause you not only financial problems, but it can cause you a lot of energy and emotional issues to where you’re working with people that you don’t really want to be aligned with. At the end of the day, it’s crucial to get the alliance from the business and the values point of view.

Styles of working

When collaborating, a different style in the way you work can be a deal breaker. With good strategic mapping and planning processes, discussing your needs and your expectations upfront plus setting some ground rules, the process of working together and developing an alliance can work.

Benefit to all parties

It’s really important when you’re actually in a collaboration that there’s a benefit to all parties, whether it be two or three of you, and a benefit to all of your businesses for the time and the energy that it’s going to take to do an alliance.

Different ways to do alliances

There are great ways to do alliances in industry, and with industry and government. Now with the incentives, the government is more open to working with enterprise organisations to full collaborations and they have clear goals around what they’re wanting to do in those innovation areas. When out in a community, you need to be thinking about strategically, “How you’re going to grow, who to grow with, and who’s going to be match that in turn?” Be open to new ideas too and don’t be afraid to see how things go.

Your business can evolve through collaborations

BWA has evolved in the past three years with the way that we have been doing things and the alliances set up. We recognized that some our members are really interested in export, so started to develop a strategic alliance with the Hong Kong Australia Business Association, looking at that as a gateway into China plus doing joint events and joint seminars to connect our members with their members. It has created new opportunities for people to meet people, because at the end of the day, it’s people that do business with people and this is how great innovations, new ways and new channels of distribution can be opened. It doesn’t have to be at a massive scale, just thinking outside of the box can be a great way to do collaboration.

The Power of a Collaborative Community to Grow Small Business

Listen to Small Business Talk Episode 43 for the full episode.

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The Podcast to Grow your Business Faster