Whether you run your own business or are employed by an organisation, you can collaborate every day with just about everyone you interact with to enrich your work and make magic happen.
After years of working in teams and different sized organisations, I really craved some time to work alone; just me and an herbal tea, a nice bunch of flowers on my desk and a decent view from the window. The buzz of working in a team is fulfilling and fun, but when I’d mentally checked out of my job, this buzz became stifling and had me looking at other options. Hence, when I quit the rat race and started Spark Escapes, I was looking forward to some quiet time; planning, creating, making. Just me.
Collaboration truly set my business on fire
But this desire didn’t last very long. I found myself dawdling around, easily distracted, setting deadlines and not giving a hoot about missing them and drinking way too much tea.
I realised I’d actually done all my best work – and had the most fun times at work - when I collaborated with others. I missed having a sparring partner to make exciting shit happen. So I embraced it and it has truly set my business on fire.
You can collaborate with everyone you interact with
Whether you run your own business or are employed by an organisation, you can collaborate every day with just about everyone you interact with. Making a joint effort with your boss is a sure fire way to job fulfillment and career progression; working together with suppliers creates great relationships and deals; and truly collaborating with your partner will take your relationship to a whole new, intensely connected level.
Co-working is another form of collaboration
I spent a year at a co-working space in London (thetrampery.com) and even though all members came from different start-up businesses, we were all in it together; sharing ideas and contacts, inspiring each other and showing encouragement for new projects and concepts.
When in London, I love to co-work on a regular basis with a buddy at a nice spot in East London (shoreditchhouse.com) or with another close friend at her flat as she works from home. In between heads-down laptop stints, we drink coffee (or herbal tea), discuss ideas and tasks and then treat ourselves to a glass of wine at the end of the session to celebrate our day.
7 REASONS WHY COLLABORATION ROCKS...
1. You generate more ideas
Find the right collaborator and the saying ‘two heads are better than one’ rings true. If your chosen one is on the same page – and path - as you, you’ll bounce ideas around like fireworks and uncover unseen opportunities.
2. You push yourself out of your comfort zone
In 2012 I joined forces with Silvia Christmann, an all-round kick-ass coach from New York. A mutual friend introduced us and we started a great friendship and partnership on inspiration workshops, quickly realising we had the same energy and mission. Silvia led me to push myself out of my comfort zone – sometimes with fear but always with success - and to have more self-belief. A collaborator can do the same for you.
3. You get way more done, faster
If two or more of you successfully team up on a project, it’s fair to say that not only will you achieve your goal more swiftly, you’ll achieve way more than if you flew solo. Splitting a to-do list with collaborators eases the load and makes the fun stuff happen faster.
4. You are held accountable and less likely to dismiss deadlines
Creating an alliance with others means showing accountability and responsibility to your team mates. I found that when working alone, I’d set a deadline and on reaching the set date, I’d wave it away as it was just me I was letting down. Some people are good at holding themselves accountable, but for those of you like me, a collaborator makes you keep your promises.
5. You have a constant cheerleader
When you’re having doubts or a bad day, or you experience a setback, a collaborator will be there to cheer you on and remind you why you’re on this mission. Friends will absolutely do the same but because your accomplice has the exact same agenda as you, this type of support is absolutely priceless.
6. You can make a seemingly impossible idea come to fruition
Many of us have an exciting idea that the left side of our brain crushes as a pipedream. We think about it often, see and feel what joy it could bring but then tuck it away with a fear of failure or assumed lack of knowledge/support/funding.
In 2011, I started getting into storytelling evenings; sitting in the cosy upstairs room of a pub listening to people’s true life stories or even fictional stories they’d written based on their own experiences. I loved how it brought enriching experiences right to me. I daydreamed about running a similar event and inspiring others like I had been.
Over a glass of wine with a best friend, I shared this new passion and she too had been thinking about something similar. We joined forces immediately and for 3 years we ran ALL EARS events all over London. During this time, we generated endless ideas together, shared the admin and marketing and met many, many inspiring people who came to share their stories at our events. It was a beautiful joint effort that enabled us both to fulfill our passion to be inspired by - and inspire – others.
7. You meet more people as a collaborator
Whether you’re employed or a business owner, meeting new contacts and networking is always helpful in driving your projects forward.
Buddying up with people like you who share the same values and ideals not only propels your energy and efforts into making things happen, they will also introduce you to more interesting, likeminded souls.
A prime example of a bad networking experience for me as a solo entrepreneur was an awful night at the Gherkin in London. The event in question was packed to the rafters and on arrival showed promise. However within 5 minutes, I’d had 3 very dull, impersonal pitches from strangers with the typical ‘what do you do? do you have investment? (and basically) what can you do for me?’ questions followed by a flat toned, pre-rehearsed schpeel about their business. Business cards were demanded and exchanged and I received template emails from each of them the following morning. No fun, no connections, no collaborators.
I found a totally different experience at Flock Global events (flock.global). Flock is a network for female entrepreneurs based in London but with networks in New York, Sydney and beyond. At each event, women share what they’d like to learn from the group to help their business grow but more importantly, what they can offer to the group to help others succeed. It is a refreshing change to see collaboration, not competition, fueling our world.
Collaborating makes the magic happen
As long as you connect with someone who is on your level, collaborations can be long term or shortlived. It doesn’t matter how long you work together, but how much magic you produce together during your unity.
Collaborate with people who inspire you and who you can trust, set out ground rules early on to avoid confusion later, make sure you and your chosen collaborator(s) hold similar values and that you complement each others’ special energy. Enjoy the ride!
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