As more women step into the entrepreneurial arena, especially rural women, we continue to see new businesses and brands emerge. Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been viewed as a competitive endeavor - compete for your ideal customers against other businesses who are selling similar goods and services and try to get as much market share as possible. While this way of thinking fuelled businesses in the past… we have reached a time where tapping into a natural strength that women possess is what will help women entrepreneurs, especially enterprising, rural women, find their next level of business growth, success and brand awareness.
What is that natural strength that women have? It’s creating meaningful connections! As women we have a natural ability for building meaningful relationships based on shared interests, goals and values. Yes, women quickly build the kinds of relationships that ultimately can open the doors to partnerships that are beneficial to all involved. In fact, research shows that women who support other women are more successful in their business endeavors.
Because rural women often feel alone, doing everything themselves, joining up in new ways with other women who are walking the entrepreneurial path immediately feels uplifting and filled with possibility. Having an inner circle of close contacts helps create a foundation of trust and connection with other women who ‘have your back’ often leading to long-term friendships that are highly treasured.
Choosing collaboration over competition is really about believing in yourself and your talents because collaborating means sharing your knowledge and experience as well. Engaging collaboratively with other entrepreneurs will help you find a wealth of resources and partners who will give you support when you need it; provide you with fresh perspectives and new ways of looking at things; shift you out of thinking that everything you do and create must be fought for; and allow you to create winning opportunities for others that bring you joy, satisfaction and success. Businesses don’t do business with other businesses – people do business with people they like and trust.
Establishing meaningful connections with other business women isn’t a ‘one and done’ event either. Prioritizing time to meet-up and check-in is essential. We know that running a business in today’s environment puts a lot onto our plates. And let’s face it, our plates are full, which means we need to actually schedule ‘get together’ time. Building solid relationships happens over time and it requires us to show up consistently, be that online or in-person, or a combination of both.
How-To Build Business Collaborations
Booking space in your business schedule for new input from others is a productive use of your time and energy. You can’t know it all, even if you are an expert in what you do or provide. Know that connecting with others who have their own unique experiences can provide you with finely honed knowledge that can actually save you time and energy. Here are some key ways to develop some collaborative opportunities for you and your business.
- Join an online or in-person mastermind group with other entrepreneurs in similar fields. This is where resources, innovations, ideas and strategies can be shared. Observe what you can learn from others’ mistakes and successes and how these could relate to or parallel your business. Share what your experience has been and what you have learned that no book or course could have taught you.
- Host events or projects with other enterprising rural women so that you can pool your talents and resources, increase your sales and bring more brand awareness to all involved. In this way you can rise together and shine a spotlight on all involved.
- Look at your product or service with an eye to improve it. Is there something that would make it exceptional that you don’t have or know? Who has this information? How could joining forces bring value to you and them?
- Develop a collaborative mindset as a brand value and way of running your business. Reach out and introduce yourself to other entrepreneurs who also spend time with your ideal client. Follow them on social media and communicate with messages or comments. Share their work in meaningful ways so that it enhances their profile. Check in via email every so often and keep a ‘warm’ conversation going. Become a trusted ally and earn their confidence so that when you need to ask for help, you’re seen as a confidante.
Collaboration and partnering are powerful tools for today’s women business owners and creativity is the key. Thinking creatively with others is often the catalyst that makes collaborations successful because it ultimately helps you learn to be innovative, discover new perspectives and generate fresh ideas that could become the kind of game-changing offerings you couldn’t have imagined or anticipated on your own.
Now is an opportune time for enterprising, rural women to join forces and capitalize on a power and strength they already possess. The time is perfect for collaborative, rural women to step into the arena together to develop and showcase some cool new offerings that will rock the status quo!
Alone, women have power. Collectively, they have impact.
Written by Jan Johnson
Co-founder Trailblazher Co.