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As a small business owner, you already understand how important and precious your time and bandwidth is. The most successful small business owners are often the ones who are able to delegate and outsource where possible, in order to focus on the core business.

However, you can take this big step forward by developing mutually-beneficial relationships with other business owners. Ideally, you’ll partner and collaborate with business owners that are in complementary yet distinct industries. However, there are still benefits to networking and collaborating with businesses who might consider your competitors.

Here are three ways your company can benefit from collaborating with other companies:

1. Business referrals

This is perhaps the most obvious benefit to networking and collaborating. However, it is so important, and potentially valuable, that we have to mention it first. It is well-known that business referrals can be dramatically more profitable than clients that you develop “cold”. For small business owners and entrepreneurs in particular, building relationships with others who offer complimentary services can lead to a wealth of referrals. One example would be an accountant who sends and receives referrals with a solicitor. Both offer similar services to similar clientele, yet neither is at risk of stealing each others business.

2. Exchanging services

For small businesses in particular, many of the costs of running a business can be quite burdensome. Many of the costs, such as printing, advertising, legal fees, etc. that are easily absorbed by a large, highly-scaled corporation can be a significant cost to a small business especially one just starting up.

Whenever possible, exchanging your expertise for the expertise of another will tend to be beneficial for both parties. Using the accountant/lawyer example we used above, both can save on what would otherwise be an expensive cost by simply offering legal and accounting services, respectively.

3. Networking and future opportunities

You never know who is going to be a huge success in the future (it could be you!). However, we do know that entrepreneurs who have seen some success are significantly more likely than the general population to become even more successful in the future. Build those relationships now, so that you have a robust professional network in the future.


Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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