You know that more collaboration is better and you’ve seen big brands do it… but how can you as a small business owner combine powers with other small businesses in this way?

If you have similar markets (AKA same customer), a similar goal (AKA growing your email list), or a complimentary identity to another business or non-profit, they might be a great collaborator! Here’s a good resource that we think lays the groundwork well(very nice looking blog post and informative).

And here are our more specific to small business tips for collaboration:

1. Join a unifying program.
We joined a group of coworking spaces offering free workspace to those affected by the Ukrainian war.
There might be a great program in your industry that you can join to become part of a larger network with cross-promotion opportunities.

2. Cohost an event.
A group of local businesses I know got together and hosted a very fun ‘Flannel Fest’ which was not at all official.

3. Offer a ‘package’.
We worked with a local hotel in the ‘offseason’ to offer them both a place to stay and a place to work for a working vacation a few years ago.
(Post-COVID, I see this being a much more popular idea.)

4. Hold a social media takeover.
Here’s the general idea and examples but it is kind of what it sounds like!

5. Become a referral partner.
If someone provides a product or service you don’t want to but your customers need regularly, set up a referral system. I have a pretty formal one with Svaha for web hosting and they refer us for training and marketing. We get more customers, they get more customers, and we keep doing what we’re both good at, win-win! You can do this in a formal way with a networking group or your local BNI chapter.

6. Chip in to create something online.
Chip in could be in the financial or sweat equity sense but think a resources folder, combined calendar, ebook, online ad campaign, map… Here’s a food guide involving local farmers, caterers, restaurants, and more.
If you see a need for something, find other businesses to help you make and promote it to elevate everyone.

7. Product giveaway or contest.
Again self-explanatory but swapping products with another business and running giveaways will increase visibility and depending on how you run it could increase your social media followers, email subscribers, etc. Just make sure you follow contest rules.

8. Shout-outs on social media, email, etc.
Amanda Sticknel does a weekly Saturday Shoutout on her LinkedIn. This is what gave us the inspo for this broadcast!

9. Create a shared distribution channel.
We’re looking into this for a downtown association but making it automated that member Facebook page posts get shared to the downtown’s page is in everyone’s best interest… and saves a lot of time. Check out our broadcast about automation to learn a bit more about the tech behind this.

In short, it takes some time and effort but collaboration is an excellent way to grow your business.

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