Smart and effective collaboration is paramount to your business success as an entrepreneur because the 21st century is all about forging relationships.
There is no question that the world is converging and becoming smaller, faster every day. A 2016 PwC study of more than 1,400 CEOs across 83 countries found that they were more worried about the increasingly complicated business landscape than they were five years ago. Business leaders must now respond to diverse stakeholders such as employees, customers, shareholders, communities, including competitors and many more; who by the way know what they want.
Basically today’s challenges have become too complex and multidimensional, so much so that they require multidisciplinary expertise. So, what does this mean for us small businesses? Surely, if this is what large corporations with large resources are worried about, we should be taking note. If challenges at hand are growing bigger than the capability of one smart entrepreneur, then it is time to seriously change our mind-set about collaboration.
While it may seem like a major risk to share your expertise or ideas with what we deem our competitors, the reality is that you can’t go at it alone. The strongest entrepreneurs embrace collaboration as a way of doing business now more than ever before.
So, our challenge is to create collaborative enterprises that can scale much faster than an individual entity. By collaborating with others, we build teams of smart entrepreneurs with diverse expertise, working together to solve problems. In fact, we are now starting to see open collaboration between various large corporations, government, non-profits and SMEs in an effort to nurture entrepreneurship in order to eradicate poverty, create employment and grow economies.
Successful brands such as Apple also collaborate with various suppliers and developers to come up with finished products. So, we need to bring together the brightest, entrepreneurial minds to launch the most disruptive ideas in Africa to create ecosystems necessary for exponential business growth. While bringing like-minded people together can be challenging as this requires managing different personalities and idiosyncrasies; collaboration can be rewarding if you set boundaries and rules of engagement upfront.
This is what I’ve learnt on my entrepreneurial journey:
- Choose the right people with the right attitude, skill sets and expertise
- Choose people who are open to receiving negative feedback and/or open to their ideas being challenged.
- Beware of people with big egos because big egos fill the room, and as a result, there is never room for anyone else.
- Set communication and reporting guidelines. There is nothing as frustrating as chasing people to deliver on their promises; this can be extremely exhausting.