The Power Of Collaboration

The solo entrepreneur is a romantic notion. The lone wolf. Reliant upon nobody. Self-made. Sounds pretty cool, right? It might be cool but the much easier route to success is through collaboration. The saying; ‘your network is your net worth’ is becoming a cliché at this point, but there’s a reason for clichés, they’re normally true. Surround yourself with people that bring you up. Grow together and collaborate. Every business I’m a part of, I’m partnered with people that know more than me about something in that business. They’re partnered with me because I know something more than them. Together we’re stronger. Teamwork makes the dream work.

When it came to starting my first business; Graffiti Life, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I wanted to build a company that would provide jobs for several of the talented artists I knew, this meant creating a business with a steady stream of clients. First I set about finding the clients; this meant we were going to need a website. I didn’t want to learn to code so Adam stepped forward and built our very first site. Once the site was up and running a few clients started gradually coming in. I found myself going to meetings and having to price up jobs, I had no idea what I was doing. That’s when Iona came in. I met Iona at a networking event, she was working in music marketing and had experience in key areas that Adam and I had no clue about. Initially, I would email her questions, until she decided to become a part of what we were building. Together the three of us eventually became equal partners in the company. I came up with creative ideas and marketing stunts, Adam took care of our digital design, website and social media and Iona dealt with clients and project management.

We’ve been working as a team for 9 years now and have launched several businesses together. For us, collaboration is working to each member’s strengths. We know each other so well and know exactly who is best suited to tackle each obstacle we face. Collaboration should involve open dialogue; if one of us has a ‘bad’ idea; it’s up to the other two to flag it, kill it, resurrect it and turn it into something beautiful. It’s collaborative discussions that allow us to discover new possibilities in our companies; hard to do if you’re a ‘lone wolf’. When working on client briefs I collaborate with our team of artists. Everyone is encouraged to have their say and we try and make everyone feel heard. I understand that some people’s unique situations; if they feel underrepresented or under qualified, can hold them back from participating. It’s my hope that our team never feels this way, because I know I can learn from everyone, from the other directors to the apprentice.

When we first started out, collaboration was key to our success. We collaborated with a fashion brand, completely customising their stand at a trade show. We shared ideas on designs, shared processes and the partnership helped us reach a new audience. We collaborated with Boxpark retail space, coming up with a publicity stunt and building our audiences together. Some people work from a place of scarcity, worried about the shrinking size of the pie when someone else gets involved. In my experience, partnerships and collaborations have allowed us greater access to new clients, new ideas and bigger pies.

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