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Collaboration: The Secret Business Weapon?

Collaboration is quite a buzzword at the moment. Gone are the days where businesses are keeping their cards close to their chest, with many instead now choosing to openly embrace this concept of the “shared economy,” which, through the creation of dynamic and innovative partnerships, is enabling businesses to achieve significantly greater reach.

Local Business Growth Consultant and Author of Big Little Business, Jayne Arlett, says collaboration has become a core strategic component for local businesses, with the region seeing a peak in such partnerships over the last year.
 
“Collaboration in its simplest form is working together for mutual benefit,” explains Jayne. “It can be a powerful way to improve your customer’s experience, your knowledge and your business revenue.

“Many businesses can also benefit from a long-term relationship with a non-competing business that serves a similar market.”

This has been the case for electrical professionals, Michael Cazzulino and Thomas Raggatt, who started their business, RCG Consultants last year, to provide their industry with quality electrical estimation and project services for commercial and industrial projects.

“It started with an idea and many coffees,” laughs Thomas. “There are numerous niche areas in the construction industry such as electrical estimating, project design and tender/bid submission services, that are in high demand.

“We saw this as an opportunity to combine our areas of expertise and establish a business that effectively assists the larger industry body with an array of tailored electrical construction services.”

With a combined 25 years experience in the industry, the pair have collaborated with small to large-sized contractors within the commercial, industrial and mining sectors to solve some of their biggest challenges.

“For many small to medium size enterprises, it isn’t feasible for them to be hiring a full-time electrical estimator or trying to squeeze in the time to write tender and bid submissions,” adds Michael.

“Our service enables our clients to operate more efficiently; it gives them an alternative option that is both cost and time effective. It’s a win-win situation.”

According to a recent Deloitte Report, Australia’s collaborative economy is worth about $46 billion per year. So, how can businesses work towards creating more collaborative opportunities and unlocking these business benefits? 

“It’s important to consider the complete needs of your ideal customer – what does your business offer at a high standard and what are the service or product gaps that your customer will need to look elsewhere for?” continues Jayne.

“You may also develop a team of other businesses that you collaborate with on a regular basis for the benefit of your customers and for your own business growth.”

WHAT IS THE SHARING ECONOMY? 

A sharing economy is defined as an economic system in which assets and services are shared between private individuals.

This customer-centric approach is something Karissa Chase understands all too well. Her business, Renegade Handmade, has been built off collaborating with local artisans to offer consumers a wide range of quality products.  

“Renegade Handmade is really an umbrella; it bridges the gap between local makers and consumers, who enjoy having a central place to purchase quality, local and unique handmade items,” says Karissa.

“This collaborative approach also trickles down and I always love seeing local artisans who have been connected via Renegade Handmade go on to collaborate together on different projects.”

The economic benefits from this collaborative business approach shouldn’t be underestimated. Since 2013, Karissa has gone on to open a second store in Townsville and started the Renegade Handmade Mega Markets, which last year, generated around $250,000 of revenue in a single weekend.

“Many people certainly underestimate the role collaboration can play in generating revenue and building a business around this,” she continues.

“Between 70-80% of shop sales goes back to the local makers and the Mega Markets really highlighted that there is a huge demand for this.”

Whilst collaboration certainly does provide multiple economic benefits, Jayne also notably points out that these partnerships act as much more than simply a transaction.

“At the end of the day, meeting other business owners with different skill sets frequently stimulates great conversations and innovative thinking that may present new opportunities you didn’t even realise were there,” she adds. “And who wouldn’t want that?”

Tips for business collaboration:

● The best collaborations are customer centric – what’s in the best interests of my customer? 

● Join business networking groups like the Townsville Chamber of Commerce and the Townsville Business Women’s Circle to connect with other businesses and understand their offerings.

● Relationships are key, make sure your values and intent are well aligned.

● Remember that collaborations are a mutual exchange, not a one-way referral. 

● Ensure clarity of the roles and responsibilities of the collaboration to avoid misunderstandings, have a written MOU or partnership agreement (even for small collabs).

Source Credit: Jayne Arlett

LOCAL COLLABORATIONS:

APRICUS HEALTH
Local businesses Access Therapy Services and Helping Hands merged last year, rebranding as Apricus Health and combining their 25 years experiences to further bolster Allied Health Services in the north.
DESIGN WORKS APPAREL & SUPPORT LOCAL TOWNSVILLE
These two powerhouse brands collaborated to produce a Support Local Townsville T-Shirt, featuring a list of local businesses on the shirt.
RCG CONSULTANTS
RCG Consultants have teamed up to provide niche electrical services for businesses in the industry.
Georgie Desailly

Georgie Desailly

Georgie is BDmag’s resident writer who is passionate about entrepreneurship, sustainability and regional affairs. She is preparing to study with The School of The New York Times later this year before commencing her journalism qualifications.