We've all heard this saying before: community over competition. Well today I'm changing it to collaboration over competition. Collaborations can be amazing for so many reasons, but they can also be scary, risky, and confusing. My goal is to get you feeling more comfortable with collaborations. I'll cover the topics you need to discuss from the get-go in order to avoid conflict and create a space for an effective collaboration.
WHY YOU SHOULD COLLABORATE
In case you're looking for a reason to collaborate, here are a few to get your wheels turning:
- Ever feel alone as a solopreneur? Collaborations are a great way to get to know someone else in your creative niche. Who knows, you might even meet your next business bestie.
- Want to grow your community? When you collaborate with someone else, you both get access to each others community. Nothing like swapping and sharing community members.
- Feeling unmotivated or uninspired? One of the best parts about collaborating, is you get to be inspired while inspiring others. Jamming on an idea with someone else is sure to get those creative juices flowing again.
HOW TO COLLABORATE
1. MAKE SURE YOU CLICK
When you're determining who to collaborate with, make sure there's some chemistry. Just like a romantic relationship, you want to make sure there's a spark. Pick your collaboration partner like you'd pick a lover. (tweet that) Okay so maybe you shouldn't hit up Tinder or an online dating site, but you do want to make sure the collaboration partner you choose is someone you enjoy spending time with! Collaborating should be a fun experience so make sure you both share similar values, goals, and beliefs.
How do you know if they're right for you?
Simply talk to each other! Spend some time getting to know each other before you ever take it to the next level with a collaboration. (I seriously feel like a relationship expert right now.) Hop on a video call and chat about what you do, who you help, and what you believe in. You will know if you click. If you don't, don't force it. How well you get along, or don't, will show in the outcome of your collaboration.
2. WORK IN A COMPATIBLE NICHE
You and your collaboration partner need to have similar thought leadership platforms, but you shouldn't have the exact same ideas and experiences. You want to be able to compliment each other and offer up your own unique ideas and solutions.
It's great to have similar ideas and beliefs, but make sure you can both bring added value and different perspectives to the table.
For example: Maybe you're a Brand Designer pairing with a Web Designer. You both will be able to mesh on the importance of design but can focus in on your specific area of expertise by offering up tips on having a well designed homepage and brand identity.
3. THINK SHORT TERM BEFORE LONG TERM
I cannot stress the importance of this step enough. Make sure you work with your potential collaboration partner on a short term project before diving in and agreeing to something long term. Use the short term project as a trial run to see how things go.
The only way to find out if you want to work with someone long term is by working with them short term. (tweet that)
Commit to something like a one time webinar before agreeing to an ongoing podcast. If the test run goes smoothly and you both want to work together again, great! Then, and only then, should you start thinking about doing something long term.
4. DEFINE YOUR GOALS AND VISION
This is the part where I bring up our greatest fear... The classic case of the group project gone wrong. I'm sure you know it well. One person does all the work, while the other just coasts by and takes the credit.
The best way to avoid the group project gone wrong scenario is by defining your goals and intent right from the start. You need to discuss your vision and what you're hoping to get out of the collaboration.
For a successful collaboration, you both need to be on board with the vision and understand your goals.
For Example: Are you simply collecting data to learn more about your target audience or are you trying to sell your product? If you're looking to make 25 sales and your partner is just looking to learn more about their ideal client, the collaboration will not work. You might end up putting more time and effort into the collaboration to make those 25 sales, while your partner might simply sit back and soak up the data she needs.
Check out Part 1 of the bonus Collaboration Agreement at the end of this post.
5. DETERMINE PROJECT SCOPE AND DEADLINES
Make sure you and your partner have time to actually commit to the collaboration. Check your calendars. Agree on a start date and end date. Factor in things like travel and product launches.
Determine exactly what you're collaborating on. Decide what tools and platforms you're using. Figure out how and when you will be communicating with one another. Dive into the specifics of your collaboration.
Questions to Answer:
- Are you hosting a webinar, creating a blog series, or cohosting a twitter chat?
- Who is in charge of completing what?
- Are you splitting the work 50 / 50?
- Are you planning on making a profit?
- How will you split the income?
- Are you collecting emails?
- Who will get to keep the email signups?
- What happens if one of you does not want to continue on with the collaboration?
Check out Part 2 of the bonus Collaboration Agreement.
BONUS COLLABORATION AGREEMENT
Avoid conflict and kick off your collaboration right by working through this bonus Collaboration Agreement together! Some of the conversations you need to have when collaborating can be awkward. This Collaboration Agreement will ease the tension and set you up for an effective collaboration.