Collaboration is key to the long-term success of any business. Whether it’s helping break into new markets or developing a new product, forming partnerships with other enterprises is critical to small firms in pursuit of growth, innovation and, ultimately, results. Richard Branson once said: “To be successful in business, and in life, you need to connect and collaborate.”
Of course, weighing up potential collaborative opportunities, which require a certain degree of openness and trust, can cause anxiety for the new or inexperienced CEO, who may, understandably, be a little protective of his or her entrepreneurial venture.
However, these CEOs don’t have to look far to see that the small business scene in Ireland is jam packed with smart collaboration success stories. In fact, Better Business and Virgin Media Business spoke to the CEOs of three of those success stories earlier this month – Coindrum, which provides self-service machinery that turns foreign currency into shopping vouchers and micro-brewery Wicklow Wolf.
If you are pondering a potential collaborative opportunity, consider the three questions below and the experiences of our three entrepreneurs to help weigh up the opportunity in front of you.
Do we have a shared vision?
There is nothing more powerful in business than people working towards a shared vision and purpose.
Bray-based micro-brewery, Wicklow Wolf has always been clear on its own vision and this passion has raised plenty of opportunity along the way.
“Craft beer, because if it’s made better it tastes better. We love craft beer, and our passion shows in every pint. We hope you’ll love it too.” – WicklowWolf.com
This passion resonated with Scottish craft beer brewer, BrewDog, resulting in a mutually beneficial business collaboration, where BrewDog has now on a number of occasions, invited Wicklow Wolf to supply beers to strengthen the Irish offering in its own bars.
“It’s really important to be surrounded by really good brands that complement our own” commented Wicklow Wolf Co-founder and CEO, Quincey Fennelly.
Can we solve each other’s problems?
Another indicator of a promising collaborative opportunity is where there’s scope to solve problems for each of the two parties.
It was this observation that proved the breakthrough for Coindrum founder and CEO, Lukas Decker.
Lukas’s business idea occurred to him when passing through a motorway toll in an automatic coin machine lane. “I thought, ‘I would love a machine like that in the airport where I could get rid of all my coin currency’,” recalls Decker.
The challenge was finding an airport that would give Coindrum its first shot. Decker was confident that once he did, he could generate the data required to prove to airports all over the world that this product worked.
He met with Dublin Airport CEO, Jack McGowan who understood how Coindrum could be the solution to an ongoing challenge for Dublin Airport – encouraging travellers to shop more in Duty Free.
The collaboration was a great success and today, you’ll spot Decker’s coin machines in six countries and ten airports having recently secured a deal with Dubai International Airport.
Ego aside, is this financial investment ultimately best for the business?
Last, but not least, financial investment is often at the crux of the matter when considering a partnership. While a CEO’s first instinct might well be to maintain full ownership at all costs, it’s important not to let ego blind you to the opportunities that come with bringing in a strong investor.
French fashion designer Coco Chanel (or Gabriel Bonheur Chanel) and founder of the Chanel brand, famously only owned 10% of her business. The lion’s share was owned by her financier, Pierre Wertheimer. It’s often debated whether this decision was genius or foolish, but as Warren Buffet once wrote “It’s better to have a partial interest in the Hope diamond than to own all of a rhinestone”. In exchange for her equity, the strategic partnership afforded Coco Chanel multiple benefits. She held exclusive creative control over her brand. She benefitted from Wertheimer’s expertise, business connections and financial clout and ultimately became one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Virgin Media Business: Your Partner in ICT
When it comes to keeping your business connected and ready to do business, Virgin Media Business strives to be the only partner you’ll need. We understand that each small business has its unique needs and our team will be delighted to discuss how personalised services can help you reach your goals. Find out more about our small business broadband, phone, Wi-Fi and TV services or contact our team on 1800 940 062 to discuss where you want your business to go next and how we can help.