Collaborate or Be Killed

Don't venture into business with just a one-man army.

learn more about Kelsey Ramsden

By Kelsey Ramsden

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

My first business, a construction company, grew in revenue because of collaboration. I looked to other contractors whose businesses had value to me and that I could add value to.

In short, both sides had needs and wants. Instead of seeing others as competitors, these individuals and I saw as opportunities for greater business through collaborating.

I am using the same principles now in a totally different industry (coaching and mentoring) and the results are also positive. Collaboration works. Let me tell you how.

Most entrepreneurs out there with a kill-or-be-killed attitude, which in my opinion serves only to create a one-man army.

I have gone to battle in the big wide world of commerce and found that getting people on my team through collaboration lets me create a troop -- even a battalion -- of people working with me to win clients and customers. Once I figured out that collaboration is the rocket fuel of scaling, I started to see it everywhere I looked.

In June while speaking at Nathalie Lussier's Off The Charts Live event in New York City, I was thrilled to meet the co-founder of Brooksville, Fla.-based healthy-living company Simple Green Smoothies that has grown its following by using the rules of collaboration. The company collaborates with other businesses when it stages its 30-day health challenges that help promote its products (a collection of recipes and an online guide to a 21-day cleanse).

Related: How to Successfully Collaborate With a Larger Business Partner

Company co-founder Jen Hansard had this to say about collaboration: "Don't limit yourself to just connecting with people in your specific field."

"We've reached out to incredible people in fields that are totally different than ours," Hansard said about her work with co-founder Jadah Sellner. "We've been able to help each other's businesses, yet also connect on a deeper level and build an authentic relationship" over time.

"Don't hold back on who you reach out to," she said. "Your story and experience is valuable and can help other entrepreneurs."

Entrepreneur Jason Wachob, CEO of New York City-based MindBodyGreen, has a business model that's also collaboration based. His company offers healthy-living courses, events and a website. He invites all sorts of people to contribute to the content to his website. He creates lists from the readers that materialize as a result of that contributed content and then tries to sell them deeper knowledge through paid online courses.

Wachob told me that collaboration was built into his business from Day 1. He had a great knowledge base and a passion for conversations about wellness but knew he did not know everything. He understood that collaboration would be key to getting not only great feedback but also great content for his readers.

After securing tons of contributors including industry thought leaders, Wachob became clear that creating policies for how a business is served by collaborating is imperative. Collaborations must be a strategic fit for both parties.

No matter if you're building roads or blending smoothies, your business can grow if you use these three proven laws of collaborative success:

Related: 18 Resources to Help You Become Amazing at Acquiring New Customers

1. Be clear about what you do for your customers.

Explain why others should seek out your company specifically. Then list three ways that they can be better served via the insights or assets of another brand or individual.

2. Think about being of service before being selfish.

Before asking a collaborative partner to give you something, gain clarity on what you can give that party. Approach the partnership with a gift before the ask. Mind Body Green gives people who have passion and deep knowledge of their field a place to distribute their insights into a lead-rich space of people who have self-identified as interested in wellness. For Wachob, it's the whole of all the contributions that makes the site viable.

3. Step out to ask for feedback.

First you must ask another party to collaborate. But then you must be willing to listen to feedback not only on the proposal but also on the work the collaborator will help promote. After all, collaborations are representations of both parties, as The Desire Map author Danielle Laporte says, the improvement of the end product happens only if you are open to true collaboration, which includes offering opinions and being open to contributions from others with different skill sets.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correctly describe the nature of collaborative efforts at Simple Green Smoothies.

Related: A Crash Course on Licenses, Joint Ventures and Partnerships

Kelsey Ramsden

CEO of Mind Cure Health

Kelsey is the President & CEO of life sciences company Mind Cure Health Inc., where she leads an innovative team providing psychedelic-assisted therapies. She has built multiple 8-figure businesses from the ground up and has twice been named Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneur

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Business News

Would You Buy Maggie Murdaugh's Monogrammed Snake Print Pillows? Items From the Murdaugh Family Home Are Going Up for Auction

The sale comes just weeks after Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the June 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and son Paul Murdaugh.

Health & Wellness

3 Insights From the First Large-Scale Study on Burnout and Entrepreneurs

Researchers found autonomy and "psychological utility" are linked to happiness, while having a team increases your risk of burnout.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.

Business Culture

Connected for Success: 4 Crucial Values of an Interconnected Organizational Culture

This is why every company needs to foster an organizational culture driven by creativity, autonomy, and collaboration.