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By: Phil Nevin, CCO and founder of x+why.

6th April, 2022: Creating closer relationships by sharing value can help businesses become more resilient and successful, especially during times of rapid development and uncertainty. Learning how to effectively collaborate with other businesses is a skill that can be honed. B Corp certified, flexible workspace specialist, x+why, give their top tips on how they unite, inspire and amplify companies on a mission to impact the way the world works for good, creating an authentically collaborative environment of cohesion, creativity and change:

1. Shifting mindsets

True collaboration requires a transition from a cost-based to a value-based way of thinking which often also means shifting from a quantitative, to a more qualitative focus. Many companies have become intensely focused on numerical metrics, driven by a need to impress investors and secure predominantly financial returns. However, it’s the quality of human relationships within an organisation that creates real intangible value, and while the direct metrics can be difficult to quantify, the overall output and environment usually tells us all we need to know.

2. Communication and trust

The cornerstone to great collaboration is effective communication – which has many fundamental elements, based around a shared perspective. Being able to view things from the other side means constantly challenging underlying assumptions and being aligned in values, developing a mutual trust and sharing value.

People may have different approaches to trust – for some, trust is something that’s demonstrated from the outset, while for others, this is something that takes time to build. More often than not, trust is a by-product of longstanding relationships with a shared understanding. Companies involved in effective collaborations tend to appreciate each other’s capabilities, understand each other’s businesses, and know that their partners will stick to the commitments they make.

3. Operational organisation – shared goals

Depending on the size of the team, making sure that everyone effectively engages in collaboration requires some degree of leadership and organisation. However, as opposed to adopting the traditionally hierarchical view of leadership, many modern organisations recognise that everyone has something of unique value that they can contribute. This adopts a more lateral view that encourages everyone to engage in greater self-management and participation. At the same time, having clearly defined roles and responsibilities brings clarity and structure to the process. Having a common goal and shared value helps to align these processes more naturally, so that people can be driven by authentic internal motivators, as opposed to external incentives.

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4. Igniting inspiration

Authentic motivation comes from feeling genuinely inspired. As creatures of our environments, this means immersing ourselves in the culture of one or more spaces. Working with other businesses, whether they are in the same or different industries, can ignite fresh inspiration, innovation and ideas. We all gain from getting to know others and how they are doing things differently. Focusing on commonalities can help bring businesses from different backgrounds together – for example although you may be in different industries, you might want to consider collaborating with businesses in the same location, or adopting similar marketing ideas. It’s impossible to know what fresh new insights might emerge until action is taken.

Such action could mean attending more community events, or even hosting events of your own – which will allow you to showcase your capabilities while building your network.

Rupert Dean, co-founder of x+why comments: “During the pandemic, life became increasingly virtual, and while this is often more convenient, nothing beats the connection and engagement that in-person events have to offer. Working together with other entrepreneurs is also an opportunity to build your customer network. When you partner with another business, you gain credibility with their customer base. That helps get you in front of a new, different audience who might not otherwise have interacted with your business.”

5. Dedicated to diversity

While it helps to be aligned in mission and values, effective collaboration requires a diverse range of opinions and backgrounds. This ensures that plans do not become narrow minded and remain unaware of their own unconscious biases. Every business is run differently, and each entrepreneur comes with their own tale to tell. Innovation is often generated as a result of recombination and having a greater range of inputs ensures that the result will be more inclusive by catering to a wider audience.

6. Lifelong learning

Adopting a growth rather than a fixed mindset requires the curiosity to get out of your comfort zone and become a lifelong learner. Being able to admit when we’re struggling and not being ashamed to ask for help comes from acknowledging our limitations and having the patience to start over. Whether we’re an expert or a complete novice, there will be obstacles that we are unable to solve on our own, and many of the unexpected problems of entrepreneurship require constant re-evaluation and making iterations on the go. Having a strong network can be thought of as entrepreneurial crowdsourcing – as there is no greater teacher than lived experience. Plus, they’ll be coming at the problem from different points of view, so you’ll gain a new perspective on the situation.

When it comes to collaborating effectively – a win-win is the only win. By working together with other entrepreneurs, you could be helping a new business launch or keeping a struggling one from having to fold. It’s part of being aware of the larger implications of what you do as a business owner, big or small. Social responsibility also resonates with an increasing number of consumers today, people understand the power of their purchasing habits and want to use this to support causes that do good, so that we can create a better ecosystem for all.

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