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Collaboration is the key to business success

27 March 2018Jonathan Faurie

When we set out to start our own companies, we do so with one goal in mind. We want our companies to thrive, prosper and to stand the test of time when it faces its biggest challenges.

But at the end of the day, while every has the potential to become the next Apple and Google, or the Coca-Cola of its generation, many companies fail because the company tries to take on the world alone. 

There is a lot of value in collaboration. I recently read an article on forbes.com by Tamara Schwarting, the CEO of 1628 LTD, which discussed the topic in detail. 

In the beginning

Schwarting points out that creating a company that sustains the test of time requires a network of allies, advisors, and partners. Learning to select the right partners and, in turn, trusting them is vital for success. 

“When I set out to start a new business two years ago, I recognized I would not be able to do it alone. I had spent 20 years in corporate America and knew first-hand the value of relying on the expertise of others. Even with confidence in my concept and expertise in the industry, I was risking too much to depend solely on my knowledge and abilities,” said Schwarting. 

She added that early in her career as a scientist, the depth of her expertise was the key to her success. But when she shifted to supply chain purchasing, this discipline was much more relational in nature. Schwarting’s results were only possible through the reliance and support of a fully cross-functional team. She said she couldn’t be successful on her own. 

Cultivation over time

Schwarting pointed out that like any relationship, business partnerships have to be cultivated over time. “Partners need clear expectations. They need to know they are valued. Building trust over time becomes essential when complications and difficulties arise, and they always do,” said Schwarting. 

She adds that it is common for entrepreneurs to express loneliness; nobody knows what it’s like to work this hard. No one truly understands the company’s vision except the company. “I have learned that this, in part, is a self-imposed condition seeded by the need to maintain a tight control on all aspects of the process. This mentality holds good people back from being great. When we allow ourselves to trust others and express that trust through transparent communication, we build a foundation for personal and professional growth and success,” said Schwarting. 

Dealing with people

Schwarting points out that at the end of the day, companies don’t do business with other businesses, companies do business with other people. “My partners are handpicked not only for the quality of work, but also for the way they function together. I seek to know and understand my partners as well as they know and understand me,” said Schwarting. 

She added that when building her team of partners, she assembles a diverse group of individuals in her inner circle. “This allows me to rely on different individual strengths for specific phases of the project or the business,” said Schwarting 

For her line of work, Schwarting pointed out that she looks to fill the following roles: 

  • The optimist: this is a person who always looks on the positive side and will generally downplay negative risks/attributes;
  • The realist: this person seeks balance in providing guidance. These individuals can objectively provide both negative and positive perspectives;
  • The cynic: this person is quick to point out all of the areas of concerns or watch outs for a project;
  • The strategist: this person is big picture, solutions-oriented. They are best engaged in early stages as they enjoy running scenarios;
  • The doer: this person is tactical or transactional in nature and thrives in an environment where they can make lists and accomplish tasks;
  • The caregiver: this person likes nurturing individuals who may not have a vested interest in my project or company. They ultimately care about the business owners holistic well-being; and
  • The connector: these individuals get satisfaction from making introductions within their network and look for ways to leverage their knowledge to help others. 

Not mutually exclusive

Schwarting points out that these roles are not mutually exclusive. It’s very common to have a given individual play multiple roles (i.e. The Optimistic Strategist or the Cynical Connector). Depending on your specific personality type you may need to surround yourself by a slightly different mix in your core team. 

“Regardless, keeping in mind being an entrepreneur does not necessitate forging a path alone. It would be impossible to do so. Instead, it’s important to surround ourselves with a network of partners to help weather the storm and share the fruits of success,” concluded Schwarting.

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