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Teaming Up

Teaming up with other business professionals can be a smart strategy for today's small business owner. In order to survive and thrive, today's new economic realities are requiring us to join efforts and team up to use smarter, more creative strategies to rise above the limitations of being a small, home-based, or geographically remote operation.

Fifteen Reasons to Team Up

-Get more business and increase your income

-Serve more clients in the same period of time and become successful faster

-Avoid downtime between jobs

-Bid on larger contracts and take on bigger, more interesting projects

-Make sure people take you seriously

-Add on or expand into additional sources of income

-Test out new business ideas with less risk

-Respond more quickly and easily to the demands of change

-Reach clients and make contacts in other geographic locations

-Enhance your credibility or reputation

-Boost your effectiveness, creativity, and energy

-Do a better job more quickly

-Share expenses to stretch a tight budget

-Avoid professional isolation and get inside information

-Get needed support without hiring employees

Teaming Up Options

1) Networking
Networking is by far the most popular, and one of the most effective, marketing methods for small and home-based businesses. Perhaps networking can best be summed up with the expression, "you help me, and I'll help you. "As a teaming up activity, however, networking goes beyond being a convenient way to make contacts and get business leads.

2) Mutual Referrals
Like networking, giving and getting referrals is a common marketing practice among small businesses. It's also becoming a popular way to run your business more effectively by teaming up. A mutual referral agreement involves a conscious decision between two or more people to refer business to one another on a regular basis.

3) Cross-Promoting
Cross-promoting means pooling your promotional resources (time, money, ideas, contacts, etc.) with others who share the same market, so that everyone gets more visibility and positive impact for a fraction of the effort and expense.

4) Interdependent Alliances
An interdependent alliance enables two businesses to work regularly and consistently with each other on actual projects originated by either party. Each business remains independent yet depends on the other for added capabilities, expertise, and competence. This form of teaming up is similar to forming a partnership or a joint venture, except that in an interdependent alliance the parties involved continue to operate as separate and distinct legal and financial entities, working alone at times on some projects while teaming up on others.

5) Joint Ventures
A joint venture is essentially a one-time or limited-purpose partnership. In a joint venture, you literally link up to act as one entity on a given project, sharing full responsibility from start to finish for whatever happens. Joint ventures are usually limited to a single event or activity.

6) Satellite Subcontracting
Satellite subcontracting occurs when one person's company becomes the "marketing hub" or business generator and subcontracts the business out to other self-employed individuals or small companies. Someone who's operating as the hub of a satellite subcontracts out work either horizontally or vertically. In a horizontal satellite arrangement, you subcontract out to people who do the same type of work you do; in a vertical satellite arrangement, you subcontract out to people who do work that either precedes or follows what you do.

7) Consortiums
In a consortium, different types of businesspeople work together as a group to attract or obtain business for one another. They may actually do some of the work together, like an expanded form of an interdependent alliance.

8) Family/Spouse Collaborations
Today's family and spouse collaborations run the gamut from corporations owned by husbands and wives (or other family members) to an array of more informal arrangements by which a spouse or family member joins in to lend support to a self-employed relative.

9) Partnerships
Two or more individuals or companies agree to join forces by sharing in the ownership of a business for the purpose of earning a profit.

10) Virtual Organization
A virtual organization is an enterprise that can marshal more resources than it currently has on its own by collaborating with others both inside and outside its boundaries. Newsweek described this emerging organization of the future as a temporary network of independent companies who come together quickly to exploit fast-changing opportunities and, linked by information technology, share skills, costs and access to one another's markets.

Source: "Teaming Up". Paul and Sarah Edwards, the Self-Employment Experts, and Rick Benzel. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1997

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