There’s a big sense of independence running your own business and making your own way – but finding likeminded souls to collaborate with is the secret to leveraging your business to new heights.
Breaking free from working for the man has a raft of benefits. You’re able to pursue what you’re truly passionate about, you’re the master of your own destiny in terms of hours and office location, and you answer to nobody but yourself (and hopefully a building client base), which are all enticing prospects.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated small business numbers are increasing with a two percent jump nationwide since 2015 and the Western Australian Government research shows 97 percent of business in WA is small business. Of those businesses, 62.2 percent have no employees and hence, operating solo. While these figures are encouraging for anyone looking to take the leap, the flipside is the smaller the business, the less likely to survive.
50 percent of sole traders that started up in 2013 were still operating in 2016, with the survival rate chances increasing the larger the employee numbers were. It’s fair to say, the more company you keep the likelier your business is to stay afloat. For sole traders, it’s never appeared more important to reach out to others.
Small business owner Rachel Dowdy of Green Goodness Co admits she wouldn’t have survived without reaching out to influencers within her industry as she started out. According to Rachel, making connections with other small businesses is key to not only growing your business, but also in staying sane.
“Being in small business can be very isolating, many of us work from home and sometimes don’t see another person during the work day which can be really lonely when you’re working long hours,” Rachel says. “While my whole business is about making connections, I really do think it’s the most vital thing you can do to leverage your business.” Green Goodness Co began in January 2015 when Rachel noticed a hole in the health and wellness scene. With the interest in the industry growing, information was everywhere and largely conflicting which made it very difficult for the average punter to find what they were looking for.
“There was no one place people could find everything health and wellness on one platform, so I used what I knew about platforms from previous roles at REIWA and Fairfax and created a website with a business directory, event calendar for all the health and fitness events in Perth and a blog,” Rachel explains. “Our motto is find health your way, so it has something for everyone.”
As she brought the businesses together on one website, Rachel realised she also had to play a critical role in providing an avenue for them to connect with each other, as well as their target audience. So she began a series of workshops for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses.
“My workshops are less about attracting members of the public and more about getting people in the industry to network because collaborating with different people worked so well for me, I knew it would be beneficial for others,” Rachel says. “We had a collaboration workshop last year with 50 different businesses and we hosted speed dating for small businesses session. From there, so many people went for coffee dates afterwards and ended up making friendships or collaborating on amazing projects – all sorts of good things came out of it.”
Rachel knows that taking the first step to connect can be hard (“I had someone tell me they’d driven around the block three times before they worked up the courage to come into our event,” Rachel says), but says a change in mindset can make all the difference.
“Stop thinking about what you’re going to get out of the event and instead think about what you can bring or how you can help others, that’s when you start to make really authentic connections.” “Meeting new people can be tough, so I think if you go in with the goal of meeting just one new person and hearing about their business, then that’s great.” If there aren’t any suitable workshops or industry events on the horizon, don’t let that stop you from connecting with others.
“Social media is a great way to connect with others and it’s obviously a huge part of our business so I think that’s a good place to start reaching out,” Rachel says. “But I’m also a huge fan of meeting people face to face, even though we’re all busy and it’s easier to email or whatever, you get a true sense of who someone is and what they’re trying to achieve by meeting up for a coffee and having a good chat.”
Harness the power of & by reaching out to someone in your industry you admire (kick off with a compliment and you can’t go wrong) or book into an industry event today.