Guest Opinion: To grow your business, collaborate – don't compete

Jul 25, 2017 | Uncategorized

Monday, July 24, 2017 

By Becky Fluegge | Vice president and SBA lending specialist, Bankers Trust Co.

Women business owners often experience the same challenges when they’re getting started, regardless of the industry. Unfortunately, this sometimes drives women to compete with other women business owners rather than help each other grow. While this may seem like a natural reaction, better results often come from collaboration over competition. Here are two ways you can push yourself to better collaborate:

Take advantage of your strengths

It’s well known that women have strong relationship-building skills. Use these strengths to develop relationships with other female leaders, business owners and experts who can help you in different areas of business, whether it’s creating your strategic plan, helping you grow your business or having a peer group with whom you can discuss your experiences. When you build your community and start helping others, you’ll soon see how much comes back to help you.

Participate in local and national professional groups

The strategy of “helping others to help yourself” has proven to be successful through professional associations such as the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), FemCity and Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), to name a few. Every time I’ve participated in events with these organizations, I’ve been blown away by the members’ willingness to not only share their challenges and success, but also help each other solve problems.

Local groups are great because of their intimate knowledge of a region or network. Membership in national organizations helps extend that network, allowing you to collaborate with people across the country who may also relate to your situation but are not your direct competition. Whether you choose local, national or a combination of the two, it’s important to keep in mind that membership in any organization is what you make of it. The more willing you are to put in the time, attend events, develop relationships and help others, the more receptive other women will be to helping when it’s your turn to ask.

My favorite phrase to live by comes from Sharon Pearson, who said, “Be humble when you succeed, and take others with you.” Sharing wins, both big and small, with those who helped you reach those accomplishments goes a long way. Choosing collaboration and working together may be the key to helping you achieve your goals a little quicker.

Becky Fluegge is vice president and SBA lending specialist at Bankers Trust. With more than 20 years in the commercial lending industry, she has helped many small businesses secure the funding they need to be successful. Becky can be reached via email or LinkedIn.

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