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Keep These Five Tips In Mind When Growing Your Business Through Collaboration
Written by Parul Agrawal on May 13, 2021
Looking to collaborate with other businesses or individuals on a project? Well, you probably don’t need to be told how valuable the move can be for the growth of your organization.

Aside from the direct benefit of combined resources and shared financial responsibility, collaboration presents businesses with an opportunity to unlock fresh perspectives, challenge existing ideas and build upon new ones. At the very least, it will allow you to focus on your core competencies. Also, specialization can fuel productivity and efficiency. In short, there’s a lot that could go right.

But let’s not ignore the flip side to the situation. There’s a lot that could go wrong as well. For example, it’s all too easy to get derailed by internal conflict and culture clashes, especially when there is a third party involved. In my experience, it comes down to the way that the alliance is handled, and most corporate collaborations fail because they fail to recognize the importance of that relationship. So how can you ensure your business is not on that list?

1. Find the right business partner.

This one might seem painfully obvious, but it’s where most businesses fail even before they begin. The truth is, it is simply not enough in this day and age to find somebody who is willing or financially able to work with you. Equally important is that they share the same values, passions and corporate aspirations as you, and chances are, you will have to look beyond your limited contacts to find that ideal collaboration. Look into business networking events and programs in your area, which are some of the best platforms to find enterprises that may be looking for collaborative opportunities. And when you’ve found a prospect, be sure to research it thoroughly.

2. Establish a common vision and mission.

The simple act of forming vision and mission statements can unify the two parties and make clear their intentions from the get-go. This is essential for two reasons: first, it will ensure that you and your business partner are on the same page regarding the goals of your project, and if not, it will give you an opportunity to clear up any differences in opinion. This is the only way to avoid any future disappointment and polarization that may occur because you and your partner had different visions for the venture. Of course, a secondary advantage is that visualizing success gives the team direction, bolstering collaborative spirit and motivation.

3. Outline each person or organization's role.

Explicitly decide on the roles, responsibilities and contributions of each individual/business in the collaboration. While trust is not only important but imperative for the long term success of any collaborative project, this does not mean that you shouldn’t hold each other liable. Unless clear expectations and roles are established for each party, there will be no sense of accountability for actions and tasks, and this may hinder your proactiveness, however subconsciously this may happen. Not to mention, there is a high probability for confusion when responsibilities haven’t been delegated appropriately to begin with. Why haven’t those e-mails been sent? Whose job was it? Guess we’ll never know now.

4. Use technology.

This is especially crucial when the collaboration is among two or more businesses where day-to-day correspondence is not feasible. Having a shared platform allows both sides to keep track of progress in real time and synchronize workflows rather than dealing with constant back and forth. The benefits transcend far beyond efficiency; collaboration softwares such as Slack, Trello, Flock and Google Drive keep the entire team informed on new developments while eliminating the chances of miscommunication or duplication of labor. What’s more, these platforms can either be used singularly or coupled with each other to set up a custom virtual office built for your collaboration.

5. Take a page out of the U.S. Army’s playbook.

The after action review (AAR) was originally developed by the U.S. Army, but today is widely applied to business and knowledge management. The term refers to a debriefing session in which every participant of a project thoroughly analyses the work done by the team and evaluates possible areas for improvement, even if that means pointing out flaws in the strategy. In other words, it is an opportunity to be critical without actually criticizing. That said, how can it come in handy specifically for collaborations? Well, here’s how. After every major action, you schedule a structured team review to deal with disappointment or disagreement before it escalates, addressing issues at their crux. Arguably the root cause for most failures is conflict, which often leads to resentment, tension and strain on working relationships—this simple method can save all that.

All these tips can aid in making collaboration an effective method to grow your business, but it’s important that amid all this, the true essence is not lost. The beauty of collaboration is that it is by nature a win-win situation: In the process of propelling yourself forward, you simultaneously do so for another individual or enterprise. Do not resist this, but embrace it.

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Keep These Five Tips In Mind When Growing Your Business Through Collaboration
Written by Parul Agrawal on May 13, 2021
You log in to your favorite social media site and see a message saying that you've been banned. The panic sets in as you realize that this means no more updates on the latest news from your followers and friends. You are not alone.

When my account was hacked, Facebook deactivated me on all its platforms due to safety concerns. I felt like a big part of my life, my identity, was gone. Disappeared. I was scared that I would be unable to stay in touch with the people who were important to me. It felt like a near-death experience, especially for my business: How will I reach out to my followers and share about my services? My following wasn't huge, but it included people who were ideal clients. It seemed like a huge disaster for my business. 

Then it hit me: The only person who can take my social life and my business away from me is myself. So instead of feeling sorry for myself and being angry with Facebook (which does nothing), I took a deep breath and started looking into other ways to stay connected without being ruled by algorithms and hackers.

I was determined to survive and thrive during this social media ban. Here's what I did, and what to do if it happens to you.

1. Read a book
There are ways to find solace during a social media ban, such as reading your favorite novel or flipping through magazines. I find it really refreshing when my phone isn't constantly buzzing in front of me, making reading more enjoyable as well. Reading is one of the best things you can do to increase your writing skills and enhance your vocabulary. Then plan to make a comeback, writing posts using richer, more eloquent language. 

An added advantage: Your brain will thank you for not being overloaded with information all day long from social media posts about what people ate at breakfast this morning. 

2. Meditate
When scrolling on Instagram, it can be hard to stay in the present. This is a great time to take some deep breaths, do yoga or just sit in silence and think about what you want for yourself without any outside distractions. I've been meditating for a few years now and it has really helped me to stay grounded and balanced. A social media exile period is an excellent opportunity for self-reflection, which can be really helpful when you're trying to figure out your life's purpose or to simply connect with your dreams. Meditation will help you get out of your own head and see what's really going on around you. 

You'll begin to notice how the ban has made life easier and your brain more creative than ever before because of all that free space.

And don't forget about exercise either because while you might not be able to show your six-pack abs on Instagram, you'll still feel better about yourself and have more energy to get things done. Going offline and exercising will boost your self-esteem, mood, and physical and mental health.  

The benefits of these activities are so great that they should be a part your daily routine anyway, but now is the time for them!

3. Engage with your audience
A social media ban will give you a chance to engage in real conversations with people who want a face-to-face talk over a cup of coffee either in person or via Zoom. Use this time as an opportunity to connect with your network on social channels that you may have been neglecting before now. Remember, a social media bans is not the end of your social life. Engage with people in person, on a video call or via text message (remember those?).

4. Listen to your inner voice
One of the best ways to weather a social media ban is by listening closely and following what feels right for you. Stay happy: It's important to stay positive, even when you're feeling down. This time offline may give way to some clarity and let you be you again, without the need to prove anything to anyone in the online space. Stay true to yourself and be grateful for people in your life who are there with open arms no matter what happens on social media.

5. Connect via e-mail
An e-mail list is the biggest asset for any business. If you have ignored your e-mail list, now is the time to connect by sending out updates, sharing blog posts or even just checking in.

The best way to get started is by using a service such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact. They have templates that are easy to set up — no design skills required! And the great thing about this option, even people who aren't on social media can stay in touch with you by subscribing to your newsletters or updates.

6. Create evergreen content
Let's face it, social media posts have a short life span. So why not create a blog, videos or a podcast with content that is not time-sensitive and upload it on a platform that you own. Your audience can come back to your site at any point in the future, so you don't have to worry about losing your precious content. 

Publish each post on your website and share them to other platforms such as Medium, LinkedIn and Quora to reach an even wider audience. This way, you can share the message that is important to you and reflects your skills without having the pressure of posting regularly or being active all day long online like with social media platforms.

7. Expand your network
Create a social media account on alternative platforms such as Gab, Clubhouse or Reddit. These networks are less popular and have lower user numbers than platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but they may be more suitable for your audience and can help you make a connection with your ideal client. Now is a great time to navigate new platforms and learn their operations. Social media bans are not uncommon, especially if you're an influencer or have been in the spotlight recently due to content that has gone viral on social networks. The best way to survive a social media ban is by not depending solely upon one company. 

Social networks are powerful tools for connecting with your audience and building relationships, but they're also very good at disconnecting you from the world around you — and from your own self. It's important to take time for yourself and do the things you truly enjoy. 

When it happened to me, I read a book. I meditated and picked up my phone to engage in conversation with my friends and family. I listened to my inner voice and let go of the anger that I felt. It was really nice to take some time for myself without the distractions of social media. And now when people ask me how I am doing, they can actually see what is going on with their eyes and feel with their heart instead of just reading about it online. This has allowed me more freedom than I ever had before. My life didn't change — in reality, nothing has changed: Facebook is still there. But now there are also other ways I can co-create my life with the moments and people that I love. This ban has taught me to value and be grateful for the things I have in my life. A true blessing in disguise.  | Parul Agrawal 2020 - All Rights Reserved

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