November 2018

Want to Grow Your Business? Increase Collaboration

2 minute read

In our increasingly connected world, it's more important than ever for companies to work together to solve problems, innovate, and thrive. For small and medium-sized businesses to succeed, collaboration within the company and beyond—with other organizations, suppliers and customers—is essential.

A recent study by Oxford Economics titled “How Finance Leadership Pays Off" reveals that 46 percent of companies with zero or negative profit growth say a lack of collaboration between finance and other departments keeps them from achieving their business goals.

Here are 10 ideas to help your business boost collaboration to enable better performance and growth.

1. Work with team members of different departments. Professionals from finance, IT, accounts payable, accounts receivable, sales, marketing, production, and inventory can join together to devise ways to boost efficiency to save time and money across the board. In fact, 54% of senior finance executives recently shared in the 2018 Global Business & Spending Outlook by American Express & Institutional Investor that they are likely to see substantial financial benefits from more collaborative relationships among finance, procurement, and treasury functions.

What are some better processes to track expenses, money coming in, and inventory for your company? Employing a multi-departmental approach to problem-solving will empower your talent and help you run a tighter operation.

2. Make the most of your talent pool. For starters, take in their suggestions and project ideas year-round, not just during employee assessment periods. Keeping your team engaged and feeling valued will increase performance and employee retention.

3. Negotiate with vendors for more flexible terms. Consider shorter or varying payment cycles depending on the time of year. Be open to accommodating requests for different terms from vendors.

4. Optimize terms with vendors to close gaps in cash flow. Discuss the possibility of getting a discount for paying in cash or shorter payment cycles to coincide with your company's seasons of peak revenue.

5. Align and engage with other organizations. Find companies where your goals are in alignment or your products or services are complementary. Partner up to cross-promote your businesses across different marketing channels.

6. Problem-solve with other companies. Pow-wow with businesses with which you've developed trust to drum up solutions. Home in on common problems, such as gaps in cash flow or snags in inter-departmental communication. This could help come up with ideas you may not have devised on your own.

7. Link up with different businesses. Discover ways to team up with different businesses to help elevate all parties involved. For instance, work with different companies to help you market, streamline processes, and to develop products. A multi-pronged approach could accelerate your objectives and propel your plans forward.

8. Share your way to savings. Consider sharing a space or booth with other companies on the convention floor during showcases, or co-hosting an event that showcases each of your services or offerings. This not only bolsters visibility and bring new business prospects, but also helps you save on expenses.

9. Seek opportunities with customers to help with marketing efforts. Some collaborative efforts to consider: Create a brand ambassadorship program, or feature guest posts on your company's website written by clients.

10. Engage your customers. Encourage suggestions from your clients, or launch a marketing campaign where customers can come up with product ideas. You never know, your “next big idea" could come from a loyal customer.

By finding ways to increase collaboration internally and externally, you create synergies, increase productivity and enable innovation, allowing to find better solutions and seize new opportunities for growth.