Come Together: How Collaborative Relationships Support Entrepreneurial Success

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Learn how working with others in a collaborative networking environment can be the greatest support for your business.

We all need a little help from our friends. That’s especially the case if you’re an entrepreneur trying to launch your own business.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 36 percent of new businesses fail after just two years, which is why new entrepreneurs need all the help they can get.

Some do this by pursuing a formal business education, but many also obtain support by networking and building collaborative relationships—like those being created at Impact Hub.

Related Article: Can a Gamified Work Environment Get Your Employees to Better Collaborate?

The Benefits of a Collaborative Environment

The ability to rub elbows with other like-minded entrepreneurs provides a great opportunity to share the burden of challenges encountered—as well as strategies for overcoming them.

This type of dynamic is playing out at Impact Hub, which is a global network of 76 co-working spaces that gathers entrepreneurs, professionals, and others who are catalyzing positive social and environmental change. In a recent Forbes article, participants cited a number of advantages to the setup, including the ability to build relationships, find partners and clients, and receive mentoring from someone who’s been there before.

One CEO noted the importance of such relationships: “You want a working community that ‘gets you’ but you also want people who know more than you, established people who can serve as advisors or mentors.”

The Benefits of Having a Good Mentor

Asking for help and finding the right support is essential—which is why finding a good mentor is key. The entrepreneurial journey can be a lonely one, and having a mentor who’s already traveled the path is essential to ensuring that you get the guidance that you need.

Rod Ebrahimi, CEO of ReadyForZero, says he knows the bumpy journey of a startup all too well. “As an aspiring company-builder, you always find yourself in situations where you ‘don’t know what you don’t know’ but you have to stay in motion and make decisions regardless. Without a savvy guide, in the form of a mentor, you may wind up making crucial early mistakes that would have otherwise been avoidable. The smaller your company, the faster you need to move, often without enough information to make perfect choices.”

All mentoring relationships aren’t created equal and it’s important to find someone you click with. Though mentoring in collaborative environments may be more informal, those which are more structured should contain a few key ingredients to optimize best results:

  • A specific purpose—with buy-in and commitment from both parties.
  • Clear communication—which is bidirectional and occurs on a consistent basis.
  • Trust—so that both parties know that confidentiality will be maintained.
  • A process—to ensure that interactions move at an effective pace.
  • Clear progress—with a mutual understanding of goals and commitment to working toward them.
  • Feedback—which is honest, constructive, and mutually beneficial.

Mentoring is so important, that even well-established companies are finding the need to create formal mentoring programs for their employees. In the U.S., 25 percent of companies now have some type of peer-mentoring program in place—compared to before the 2007 recession, when only 4 to 5 percent of companies reported having one.  

The Benefits of Collaborative Learning

Being part of a collaborative environment is also a great place to develop learning agility by quickly assessing what’s working and what’s not—allowing you to cast off the ineffective and set your sights on that which can lead to success. According to researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Center for Creative Leadership, such learning agility is increasingly important for entrepreneurs. They define it as “a mindset and corresponding collection of practices that allow leaders to continually develop, grow, and utilize new strategies that will equip them for the increasingly complex problems they face in their organizations.” Those who are “learning-agile” are “continually able to jettison skills, perspectives, and ideas that are no longer relevant, and learn new ones that are.”

They define it as “a mindset and corresponding collection of practices that allow leaders to continually develop, grow, and utilize new strategies that will equip them for the increasingly complex problems they face in their organizations.” Those who are “learning-agile” are “continually able to jettison skills, perspectives, and ideas that are no longer relevant, and learn new ones that are.”

Sound familiar?

Related Article: Smiles Are Free: How a Positive Business Culture Inspires Employees

If you’ve been exposed to the principles of The Lean Startup, then you know that learning agility is an integral part of this popular method for entrepreneurial success.

According to author Eric Ries, “The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup, how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere and grow a business with maximum acceleration.” Ries emphasizes a process of continual testing which can lead to more efficient product development and better results. Collaborative learning creates the same effect. In an environment in which frequent feedback from others is available, you can hone your learning agility in order to move toward your goals in a targeted manner.

Starting your own endeavor can be a scary and lonely journey. That’s why collaborative relationships are key. By becoming involved in environments that support them, finding a good mentor to support you, and honing your learning agility with others—you’ll optimize your chances for entrepreneurial success. 

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