One of the objections we face when we are out and about chatting to small business owners is their fear of:
- Sharing ideas with other businesses
- Sharing too much about their business plans with other business owners
- Believing that other business owners are all potentially competitors
What this means is that these business owners are closing themselves off to significant opportunities to make money and save money.
Yes, save money.
Engaging in business-to-business collaboration is a creative way to solve problems. It also allows you to grow your business with far less resources.
Richard has a café and pub on a busy, popular strip of restaurants in Singapore. In the early days of his business, he struggled to fill his restaurant, find reliable staff and break even. He was working 80 hours a week and was exhausted.
As he got more experienced in running his business and had some more breathing space, he noticed two problems:
- He was paying monthly subscriptions for a Point of Sale system, yet his staff were only using 10% of its features. This was because the company that provided the software was charging extremely high rates to come out and train its clients. Richard simply couldn’t afford to pay for the additional training, yet was locked into a contract with this company.
- His fresh food deliveries were regularly arriving at different times, meaning his chefs were unable to prepare meals or be as organized and efficient as they wanted.
Richard decided he needed to find a solution to both these problems. As a first-time restaurant owner, he decided the best thing to do was to speak to other restaurant owners and get some advice. He walked up and down his street, introducing himself to his neighbors.
He had conversations with all his restaurant competitors on the street.
Here is what happened next…
It turned out that a large number of them were using the same Point of Sale system and, like Richard, were not using its full capacity because of the cost of training.
All the business owners decided to unite to pressure the service provider to conduct group training for the same price as they were charging one business for it. The restaurants were very clear that they would all cancel their subscriptions with the company if they refused to train them as a group. It worked. The businesses split the cost of the training, benefited from the new learning and were able to create greater efficiencies in their businesses as a result.
With regard to the food deliveries, Richard found out that some of the other restaurant owners were also frustrated by the inconsistent timing of their food deliveries from their providers.
The restaurant owners decided to collaborate again. They appointed one provider who would arrive at 6am with the day’s fresh produce. They coordinated their approach by submitting their weekly food requirements in one bulk order, then paid the provider directly. Being able to buy bulk meant they could negotiate a better price. As a result, they saved costs, could control their stock levels better and improve their service to customers.
Did you know that around 80% of problems are common to all businesses? This means that there are many, many businesses out there that have either been through what you have, or are going through it now.
Sharing your challenges and speaking with other business owners can help you solve problems, save money and find efficiencies that make your business stronger and more profitable.
Richard’s initiative to communicate and collaborate with his competitors is a wonderful example of what can happen when small businesses come together.
Running a business has so many challenges. Think how you can use collaboration to solve problems in your business. Don’t do it alone.
Take our Essentials for Collaboration course to learn how to collaborate so you can run and grow your business with less stress and greater success.