biz-collaboration.jpgOne of the developments that caught the biggest buzz out of this year's SXSW (that's South by Southwest for newbs) music/film/interactive conclave in Austin is the recent unveiling of the Small Business Web. It's a collaboration among several technology startups focused on small-business apps, including BatchBlue, Freshbooks, MailChimp, Outright and Shoeboxed.

Rather than try to market their offerings separately, they've banded together to promote them through the Small Business Web. From their site: "The Small Business Web is a movement to bring together like-minded, customer-obsessed software companies to integrate our respective products and make life easier for small businesses." What. A. Concept.

There's never been a better time for small businesses to stop slogging along in their separate trenches and find a way to get together. These businesses have taken the time to make their applications work with each others' products, and now they can present them to customers as a suite of services instead of one-offs. Beautiful, isn't it?

It's brilliant on the marketing side as well. I think I don't have to tell you how many more people will find the URL for Small Business Web as they're casting about for web-based applications they might use, compared with the number that might find, say, MailChimp on its own. And, because collaborating in the small-biz world is so rare it's newsworthy, it gets all the companies free press, like you're reading right here.

Since launching, the list of web-app companies involved has grown to 25. Marketing aside, I think of all the great connections that are likely being made between executives at the different companies. What a great resource for startup execs who want to brainstorm with others in their space!

Still slogging it out alone in your own trench? Think about who you could collaborate with to bring your products or services to new customers. What a great strategy for digging your way out of the downturn.