The Australian Small Business Blog

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Working with Your Business Owner Friends

While driving around I heard a song on the radio from my youth. I didn’t truly understand it then, but I understand it more today. Although it was not written about business owners, it has a message for us.

The song is about how we need each others’ help to get what we need and want. In business, this means finding others of a like mind who we can work with. For large businesses regulatory competition issues come into play…. and lawyers. Two big businesses can’t combine and work together without getting a lot of unhelpful attention. There are just too many stakeholders – which is code for people who want to tell the business how it should be run for their benefit, but are not so interested in its success as to want to invest in it!

Take the alliance between Coles and Shell, and between Woolworths and Caltex, there have been a lot of complaints by ‘stakeholders’, although not from shareholders! The biggest losers from this arrangement have been the independent supermarkets and petrol stations. Some argue consumers may also have lost, but after scrutiny by the regulators and the government’s ill fated GroceryWatch and FuelWatch schemes, evidence of that has been very difficult to find.

In small business, because we aren’t changing the marketplace, we can be far more creative. You can exchange vouchers with as many business owners as you want to extend your reach. You can work on joint projects and events. You can advertise in each others’ newsletters.

You can create a referral ring. A classic example of that is the wedding mafia. This often consists of a photographer, a printer, a florist, a venue, and an event planner. If any one of them gets a wedding, they all do! This type of arrangement could quadruple a small business’ reach, which is very difficult for big businesses to do in the same way.

These strategies are the most powerful ones available for small businesses. They cost little to organise, although they will take time to find the right partners and time to plan.

Remember a small business owner is never alone and when they work with other owners, they are far more likely to achieve the success they desire.

To be successful in business, all you need is a little help from your business owner friends.

(OK I admit it, this is just a thinly veiled reason for me to post a song that brings back happy memories. Enjoy.)

What do you think? Remember, the best commenters this month will receive a $500 printer.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success.

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1 comment :

Matthew Pearson said...

Thinly veiled or not there's a good little point here.

As I've found in all my start-ups, these sort of referral networks really help with spreading the marketing mix (this is a cheap way to lessen your reliance on media like search marketing) and all it takes is a little time spent making friends on purpose.

Matthew Pearson


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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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