Small business owners can be introspective and sometimes self-absorbed people. Much of what we do leads us to be independent, self-sufficient and successful on our own. So it’s no surprise that many of us tend to keep to ourselves. This is one of the reasons why collaboration is so important for entrepreneurs.

Collaboration can take many forms, including partnerships, joint ventures, cross promotion, business networking and online sharing. And it doesn’t have to take much time for it to be a useful way to move your business forward. However, there are things to watch out for that can sabotage a collaborative relationship and cause irreparable damage. Here are four things to avoid the next time you collaborate.

Lacking a Shared Goal

While your business and overall goals may be very different – this often makes a good collaborative relationship – there has to be a meeting of the minds when it comes to goals and priorities. Both sides should understand why the other person is in the relationship and what they expect to get out of it. Without taking the time to get clarity on this, and ensure that both parties support both sets of goals, neither side will benefit from the relationship.

Inability to Communicate

Communication is one of the most important elements in any relationship, especially collaboration. If both parties can’t communicate clearly and listen effectively, there is no chance the relationship will survive. And don’t overlook the importance of personality. It will be very challenging to work together and support each other if you don’t like and respect the person you are dealing with.

Unequal Time and Effort

Having a successful collaboration means that both parties are bringing value to the table, contributing something, dedicating time and effort, and receiving comparable benefits for their investment. Everything doesn’t have to be exact, but both entrepreneurs need to feel like they are getting what they bargained for in the relationship.

No Follow Through

Every collaborative relationship needs shared goals and objectives, and a plan for executing the mutual vision. The best collaboration in the world is destined for failure if either side drops the ball. Make sure you don’t lose steam by clearly outlining responsibilities, creating metrics to measure success, checking in with each other regularly, and holding each other accountable.

Are you ready to get started collaborating? Here are 7 easy ways you can collaborate today.