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Shelly Jackson Buffington
March 22, 2018
Technology has made it so easy for us to work from anywhere, at anytime, and with anyone (or no one, #solopreneur). In our current professional environment of solopreneurs and the creative self-employed single-handedly running their own businesses, the idea of collaboration and its value can often be overlooked.
But collaboration can greatly enhance your professional aptitude, and some experts even consider it vital to entrepreneurial success.
Entrepreneur.com said, “If you’re an entrepreneur — and especially if you’re just starting out down that path — collaboration isn’t just important, it is as important as the idea itself. Finding a way to make collaboration part of your planning — and incorporating it into your mindset — will make you a better entrepreneur.”
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When my business partner and I decided to establish our official collaboration, we had been working together, in some way or another, for a few years. We realized that, if we officially combined our efforts and formed a partnership, we could maximize our creative potential, productivity, and offer more robust services to our clients.
Earlier this year, we launched our new business, and we quickly realized how much we could accomplish when we worked together for a shared goal and vision.
We started to become interested in how other organizations, partnerships, and teams effectively work together in collaboration to build better projects, products, and services for their audiences.
As with any kind of relationship, not all collaborations are effective, so how can we intentionally work to build thoughtful, functional, and creative collaborations?
If you’re currently considering a collaboration, or you’re already involved in a collaboration, you can refer to these…
If you’re currently considering a collaboration, or you’re already involved in a collaboration, you can refer to these foundational principles to help inform your work and guide your collaboration to its most successful and effective outcome:
Communication is key, right?
Yes, it is, friend. Communication is a crucial component of building and maintaining a healthy collaboration.
When you develop a collaboration, or you embark on a new project within an existing collaboration, you’ll want to be sure you set clear expectations and spend time identifying your individual roles.
Communication is a crucial component of building and maintaining a healthy collaboration. Click To Tweet
To start, establish communication priorities with your collaborator that outline how and when you’ll communicate, and allow for each individual to have the opportunity and freedom to ask questions, speak up when needing clarification, and share ideas.
Then, schedule regular check-ins and team meetings to review goals and set new goals, assess projects and tasks, and explore new ideas.
Of course, all relationships, whether professional or personal, are built on trust.
When it comes to collaborations, the best collaborations are created by people who share a mutual interest and investment in seeing one another succeed.
The best collaborations are created by people who share a mutual interest and investment in seeing one another succeed. Click To Tweet
Make room in your collaboration so that all members are given the freedom to explore and create, and that no individual is overbearing or controlling the creativity; it’s an understanding that your work is evolving and you’re always learning.
This goes along with communication, but maintain a safe space where members can share concerns. Always assume good intentions and ask for their perspective instead of placing blame or criticizing.
Keep good faith in your fellow collaborator when considering tasks that need to be done, and always trust one another when sharing and giving feedback.
Consider your collaboration and imagine you and your collaborator are on a roadtrip.
If you both promise to share driving responsibilities but you haven’t agreed on to where you’re tracking then chances are you’re in for an uncomfortable and confusing journey together; You might even run out of gas along the way.
Setting a shared vision is an imperative facet of your collaboration. With your fellow collaborator(s), you’ll want to establish a clear “why” you are working together and how you, as a team, see your work evolving.
Setting a shared vision is an imperative facet of your collaboration. Click To Tweet
What are your shared goals? What is it you collectively aspire to do in the world? This answer sets the foundation for all that you do together.
I like to think of collaborating as an opportunity to dive into something exciting with someone who inspires and motivates me; It’s like having a workout buddy.
Commit to showing up for your collaboration and that you’ll hold yourself and one another accountable for the work and the task at hand.
Make your collaboration official with a contract or letter of agreement that outlines your vision, priorities, and roles. Own this work and celebrate that you found a kindred spirit with whom you can share your creative journey!
Collaborations are rewarding experiences that can help you grow, develop, and deepen your own professional work.
However, the reality is that it won’t always be easy to work together, but that’s OK as long as you, with your collaborators, possess the ability and determination to move forward, together.
Learn to compromise and work together to collectively solve problems and issues that arise. Understand that you are learning and will continue to grow and evolve with each new opportunity to reflect and improve.
Share a willingness to move forward without getting overly discouraged and distracted. If you can do that, you’re well on your way to building a sustainable working relationship.
It’s tough to go it alone, and it can be isolating and uninspiring to work from home or in a routine.
In collaboration, though, you can get out of your comfort zone in the Land of the Mundane and move into a more exciting place.
That’s what’s so powerful about collaboration: it can change us for the better, so enjoy the process.
When creative minds come together, opportunities arise.
When in collaboration, we learn about the power of an idea to take shape. We learn how, with our skills combined, we can transform a seed of an idea into a full-fledged movement.
We’re challenged, inspired, and motivated to do more and do better.
I hope that these questions and foundational principles help you embark on new working relationships.
Have you considered collaborating? What kind of collaborations do you admire and why?
Shelly Jackson Buffington is a writer, certified professional coach, and the co-founder of The Look & The Feel, a full-service branding studio based in the PNW and SE.
She and her business partner, Callie, are exploring creative collaborations and what it means to work together on their blog. You can connect with them online @lookandfeelbranding at Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
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