There are so many reasons to collaborate, and so many ways you can do it. Almost anything goes, from making an introduction to forming a strategic partnership with another business. Once you start collaborating, it often takes on a snowball effect and continues to build long after that first initiative. It’s truly a beautiful thing when done right.

Facing the Time Crunch

But collaboration requires one key ingredient, regardless of the flavor — time. This means that one of the biggest hurdles for small business owners when it comes to collaborating is finding and justifying the time it takes to do it. I already shared a handful of what I consider low-commitment collaboration ideas, but even those initiatives can sometimes seem like too much work.

If time wasn’t an issue, I’m sure most of us would be collaborating often. Perhaps even daily if we knew for sure that it was the right opportunity at the right time, and that it would result in everything we expect it should. But let’s be honest, there are no guarantees. Collaborating, just like many other parts of business ownership, can be risky.

Of course, it’s often hard to tell if the end result will justify the time, effort and investment put into the process until you’re already committed. When this happens, many of us just continue to wait and avoid getting out there and collaborating for fear that it will end up being a waste of time and resources.

Ask Yourself This Question

So how do you know when it’s the right time to collaborate?

It’s simple. Ask yourself if the collaboration means you will get closer to a goal without having to know and do everything yourself. If the answer is yes, then collaborating is almost always worth it.

It may sound a bit self-serving, but think about it. You’re already wearing many different hats as a business owner, and you’re likely working with a tight schedule and limited budget. If collaborating will help you make progress, learn more, reach a larger group, get more bang for your buck, fine-tune your business activities, or network beyond what you could do on your own — right now — then collaboration will probably benefit you.

Keep in mind that every collaboration doesn’t have to be massive or business-changing. Even a small step that takes a limited amount of time can be a powerful nudge in the right direction. Often, the best collaborative relationships start small and build.

Take the Challenge

My challenge for you today is to think about just one small collaborative step you can take right now. It can be something as simple as introducing two contacts who have something in common, actively participating in a networking group, or helping to promote a respected colleague.

Pick one simple activity, and ask yourself if it will help you reach a goal, maximize what you can do on your own, or teach you something. If yes, then do it.

It’s all about baby steps…what have you done lately to collaborate?

Image credit: Professor25