Don’t go it alone: collaboration will help you succeed as an entrepreneur

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In business, a second opinion is always worth its weight in gold. Whether from a mentor, friend or potential client, you can never have too many people tell you what they like – and what they don’t. Gathering as much of this information early in your start-up process is critical because it will eventually help you pick and choose the best parts of your product/service.

Seek advice from seasoned veterans

CBC’s The Dragon’s Den is a Canadian television show which allows money-seeking entrepreneurs to present their business plan to a panel of successful business people and have it critiqued at every angle. While the entrepreneurs often walk away embarrassed and dejected after their ideas and products are torn to shreds, they likely found it beneficial in the long run for experts find holes in their plans early on, saving them from investing money in a business destined for failure.

The show’s take-away message is: no one should ever turn away advice from those who have been there and done that – their opinions are invaluable. Before you pour money into a small business, your goal should be to find someone who will always give you a strong second opinion. A business partner, you might say.

Two heads are better than one: get a business partner

Securing a long-term business partner (or partners) who shares your passion and work ethic could be critical to your success as an entrepreneur. They can help you get started quicker, specialise in work better and grow your business faster. Plus, they can help you stay focused on your shared goals when all the work that comes with starting a company might be pulling you in every direction.

Collaboration in business can start a number of ways, but you don’t need to look too far to find people who are willing to dedicate themselves to your vision. Friends and colleagues should be the first people on your radar. Regardless of how long you’ve know them, somewhere along the way they might have expressed some form of interest in owning their own company. Making them a business partner could be a good idea as long as they are hard-working and dedicated to the same vision you are.

Network with other entrepreneurs

If you’re looking to network outside your current circle, there are sites, such as LinkedIn, where you can find people in your area and desired industry who might also like to test the waters of entrepreneurship. There are also less populated sites, such as PartnerUp, that specialise in connecting members of the small business community. PartnerUp is great for building contacts with like-minded entrepreneurs and for receiving free advice.

If you’re still a student, another way to collaborate with others while developing your business and team-building skills would be to join a competition with SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise). SIFE is active in more than 40 countries and 1500 university campuses, with a mandate of improving quality of life and standard of living globally. They run collaborative student competitions annually with the chance to work and compete with other students in a meaningful way.

Ultimately, sharing your ideas and skills with others instead of trying to go it alone may make a huge difference in what direction your business takes and how you get there. It will not only expand your circle of contacts, but in the end may actually help your company turn a profit.

If you have already taken the steps to start your business and are currently operating, then make sure to apply for the upcoming Young Entrepreneur Awards. They are run by the Business Development Bank of Canada and offer a great chance for nationwide media visibility and networking opportunities. The deadline to apply is June 24.

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