* MY GREATEST challenge is that it's only me. I need help executing my grand ideas. How can I get extra hands onboard without paying for them?
A: In a word: collaborate. By working with like-minded people and companies that serve the same audience you do, you'll benefit from each other's legwork. But you can also benefit by collaborating with competitors, which I'll get to in a minute. You each add staff (and potentially results) without having to hire anyone, which is a big plus.
Look to partner with complementary businesses in another industry. Hail Merry healthy snacks collaborates with Omni Hotels & Resorts to provide packs of its Vanilla Maple Almonds for guests who identify themselves to the chain as health-conscious travelers.
Guests appreciate that the hotel caters to their dietary preferences, and Hail Merry gets samples to a target audience. Leaving a small pack of almonds on pillows builds brand loyalty and future sales for both companies, says Hail Merry CEO Sarah Palisi Chapin, who calls the Dallas-based companies' collaboration "a perfectly wonderful relationship."
Another example: a gluten-free bakery in a strip mall provides a nearby children's shoe store with coupons for free mini-cupcakes. Each time customers buy shoes, they receive a thank-you gift coupon, a win-win for the store and the bakery.
Although collaborations between competitors might seem odd, they work well when executed properly. The following tips can be applied to product and service businesses that share a similar customer base.
Identify an ideal partner. Life coach Rachel Luna, a Marine Corps veteran whose husband is a Marine master sergeant, wanted to host events for military wives. She partnered with Nashawn Turner, an established coach with a strong record of seminar leadership, to host a program that helped military spouses map out steps for reaching their business dreams.
"I needed someone who knew more than I did in terms of hosting events and the local community," Luna says. Working with Turner "gave me an instant endorsement and it increased visibility. And in rue she got a military spouse who knows how to hustle."