With all of the talk in the media about how the economy is in dire straits – not just in America, but across the globe – everybody seems to be hurting or living in fear. There is worry, panic and concern about where the economy is heading, and, in turn, how businesses of all sizes will manage.
Yet, from our perspective, it’s more about money changing hands and it being more challenging to track and measure. It’s more about the economy evolving and meaning something different. If you take a closer look at the new hands that are accumulating rather than losing wealth, you might realize that we live in a collaboration economy – a new economy where collaboration begets success.
In fact, our ability and opportunity to make money is better (and easier) than it was in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. While the ways business was done then don’t work very well for most small businesses today, there are several new and effective ways of succeeding in today’s economy.
The keys? Collaboration, innovation, exploration.
“Collaboration Economy” was written to help you understand:
- How to succeed in today’s business climate
- What you can do to evolve your business from the old economy model to the new collaboration economy
- How to work together to work better
- How to find the right partners
- How to make money while making sense of this new economy
While big businesses often complain about how about the economy, it is small businesses that are the lifeblood of economies around the globe and the fastest growing sector of companies in the market today. In the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries, small businesses are working with innovation, new practices and new success stories.
Signs of optimism include:
- Month over month, small businesses continue to report greater optimism and hiring.
- Heading into 2013, 31 percent of small businesses said they planned to add employees while only 3 percent expected to decrease overall employees; more than half expected revenue to increase, according to a recent Bank of America survey.
- From 2005 to 2010, small-business start-ups created an impressive 19.6 million jobs, according to the Small Business Administration.
- Crowdfunder estimates that if Americans shifted just 1 percent of the $30 trillion they hold in long-term investments to small businesses, the market for business crowdfunding could quickly reach $300 million.
- Today, optimism is higher than it has been in decades.
What is a “collaboration economy?”
Just like the name sounds, a collaboration economy involves working together (or collaborating) to boost business (your economy). It is about partnerships, mentorships and connections. It is about realizing that when we work together, we can all work together.
That doesn’t mean that just anyone and everyone should be a collaborator with your business. It’s important to learn to distinguish between a great business opportunity and one you should pass on, something we’ll discuss more later.
Essentially, you want to collaborate with the people and the businesses that share your common values and goals, and complement your skills, so you can offer each other mutual support and growth in your respective industries.
Put simply, a collaboration economy is 1 + 1 = 3 (or even more).
The Old Economy vs. the New Economy
It’s truly a tale of two economies.
The way it was done, and the way it can be done.
The old versus the new.
A dated economy that worked for a short while, and an insightful economy that will work for the long run.
The way it was and the way it is
There is a big difference between the old way business used to be done and the new way business is being done right now. One of the best resources on this topic is a recently published book called “Entrepreneur Revolution” by Daniel Priestley. This fantastic book offers great insight with regard to how new entrepreneurs are succeeding.
If you are still doing business the old way, you are probably suffering and struggling. If you are doing business the new way, you still might feel a bit lost or confused sometimes, and this book will help you address just this issue in today’s every-changing climate.
The old way in which we used to do business included something called the “net mentality,” where we would try to catch anything and everything we could by casting the biggest and widest and farthest net possible. This might have worked when things were simpler and you knew everyone in your neighborhood, everyone in your business district, maybe most everyone in your small town.
This might have worked when there were just three TV channels and limited options for outreach. You would turn the TV on and your choices were ABC, NBC and CBS. But today, there are way more than three channels, and there are also far more than just a few businesses out there that offer the products and the services that your customers might need.
From three stations to a million options
Using the media as an example, there used to be just a few channels broadcasting to millions of people. With the new media, there are millions of channels broadcasting to just a select group of people. Those channels are no longer operated by only by big corporations. They are often operated by college kids finding a new and innovative way to communicate with each other.
Likewise, think of all the niche stations that now target niche individuals – the Golf Channel for golf lovers, Nickelodeon for kids, Lifetime for women – and the list goes on and on. These are all great examples of new ways of doing business and reaching out to specific customers, rather than just casting the biggest net possible and hoping to lure something or someone in.
Facebook is another great example. In 2004, Facebook (originally named, TheFacebook) started off as a very small micro-niche product, a way that founder Mark Zuckerberg and his college friends could keep in touch with each other at Harvard. He opened it up to other colleges, but the only people who were allowed to have a Facebook account then were those who had a “.edu” email account, indicating that they were enrolled at a college or university. After that continued to grow in popularity, Zuckerberg and associates eventually opened Facebook up to the public.
As of May 2016, Facebook boasted:
- More than 1.7 billion users
- More than 70 million pages
- 19 trillion “likes”
- And more than 15 million Facebook apps
All of that success started with a specific niche.
If you look at how many channels and ways there are to reach your customers, it’s literally infinite, but the challenge is that you have to know who your customer is – which is what new business is all about.
Old business used a gigantic net and cast it as far and wide as possible. The new way of doing business is to have your hook and bait it with the exact bait you know your customer wants to bite. When you do that, you are going to be much more focused and much more intentional in your behaviors and your actions. Likewise, your small business will be much more successful in its efforts.
An idea shared is an idea multiplied
In “Why Collaboration is Key,” an Entrepreneur.com article written by marketing executive Erika Napoletano, the author discusses the importance of sharing and collaborating on ideas.
She writes: “But ideas alone aren’t worth squat. To turn ideas from air into something of value, you first have to admit that you’re not special. I’m not special. It’s probably the most difficult lesson I’ve had to learn as an entrepreneur. I’m fallible just like everyone else. The day I stopped thinking all my ideas were brilliant and my business practices above reproach was the day my company started to take off. I realized that, in their infancy, my ideas are just things bouncing around in my noggin like the last three gumballs in a glass globe outside the grocery store.”
The article further encourages collaboration with a variety of potential partners and backers and concludes: So instead of sitting around with your idea, thinking about how pretty it is and how much you love it, start thinking about the people who can help you add some weight to your thinking. The doing: That’s the path toward special.”
Collaboration is truly key in today’s new economy. It’s time for out with the old and in with the new.