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Collaboration: The Secret Sauce

The power of collaboration is immeasurable. Whether you’re a startup or an established business or whether you're a solopreneur or a MNC, collaborative partnerships empower your brand by opening doors of opportunities that typically won't be available without the collaborative partnership.

No one entity can do all things. One reason we exist is for the enjoyment of community and working with others. A most effective way for an organization to grow is through collaboration. All parties bring their expertise to the table and create a plan that leverages these skills and talents; filling gaps that are impossible or improbable to fill separately.

Unfortunately, a poorly structured partnership can be extremely costly from a financial loss,a damaged brand reputation, and sometimes even the demise of friendships.

Here are 3 key ingredients for a successful collaboration:

1. Establish a relationship- This might sound like a no-brainer however, it happens too frequently when an opportunity is presented to work on a project with a potential partner and you try to work with them based on their reputation and not based on a relationship. A good reputation is important, but how well you relate with the other person(s) is paramount. The relationship requires investment of time. This means observation of work habits and ethical behavior. You want to trust your collaborator and this is developed over time. How much time?That's determined by you. This maybe the longest part of the partnership development process, but this is the most crucial step. You must determine how well you work with the other party. I suggest starting with a checklist and preparing questions such as:

  • Are we compatible as business partners? Friendships are great, but rarely make good business partners.

  • What do we agree to be important in the relationship?

  • What do we want from the relationship?

  • What is the purpose of this relationship?

Put everything on the table. Don't harbor any hidden agendas. You don't want to have surprises later.

2. Negotiations - another key factor in a well structured collaboration is identifying your negotiables as well as non-negotiables. Never compromise on anything you’ll regret later. You’re not desperate. Allow for an opt-out clause and consider at what point. There should be an agreed upon contingency and cost for breaking an agreement after a certain benchmark. 3. Terms- it’s imperative to be clear on who’s bringing what to the table. Must determine whose getting paid how much and when, and who's the lead entity in this partnership. Also must be clear on start date, end date, and dates for meetings/feedback/check-in. and more.

There are many other important components necessary for creating a strong collaboration. These 3 keys are foundational to initial dialogue which may lead to a contractual agreement. Contracts and/or memorandum of understanding (MOU) or memorandum of agreements (MOA) are good for the elimination of emotions and for keeping focused on the business at hand. Collaboration is a powerful tool that demonstrates your willingness and ability to expand your expertise, build credibility, and gain exposure.

Although we are not attorneys, Live 4 Change, LLC has over 20 years experience in structuring sound collaborative partnerships. As a strategic sustainability consultant, we lend our expertise in creating collaborations that provide a win-win opportunity for everyone involved. Live 4 Change, LLC serve our clients through leadership and organizational development. Our goal is to help transition you from where you are now to where you desire to be through tools, techniques, systems, and strategies that will enhance productivity, increase profit, and build relationships. Schedule an appointment for a free strategy session or

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You can reach me, Dr. E. Michelle Mickens-

Please reach out to me and let me know if there's anything I can do to be of service to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. E. Mickens

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