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  Owners of small businesses in Nigeria face numerous challenges, from limited resources to intense competition. However, adopting effective collaborative strategies can help overcome these hurdles. Collaboration isn’t just about working together; it’s about synergizing strengths, pooling resources, and creating value that benefits all parties.
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Collaborating with other businesses, small business owners can leverage shared resources, expertise, and networks to achieve greater success. However, like all other important things necessary for business growth, there are ways to collaborate. The collaboration between Paystack, a payment processing company, and PiggyVest, a savings and investment platform, allows Paystack to provide seamless payment solutions for PiggyVest users. This partnership improved the user experience and strengthened both companies’ positions in the fintech industry. This article shows you practical and effective collaborative strategies. It has been written specifically for Nigerian small business owners, to provide them with actionable insights to guide them on their entrepreneurial journey.

The Importance of Collaboration

Before we delve into the consideration of effective collaborative strategies, let’s consider some reasons collaboration is important for any small business.

Shared Resources and Expertise

One of the primary benefits of collaboration is the ability to share resources and expertise. For instance, a small tech startup in Lagos might partner with a marketing firm to enhance its promotional efforts. This will go a long way in reducing costs and bringing specialized skills to the table, fostering mutual growth. At some of the popular markets in Nigeria such as the Ariaria International Market and the Ikeja Computer Village, entrepreneurs often opt for collaboration to import goods into the country. This helps them keep the cost of importation low, helping them make profits on imported goods.

Wider Reach

Collaborations can significantly expand a business’s reach and network. By working together, non-competing businesses can access each other’s customer bases and increase visibility and potential sales. For example, a Nigerian fashion brand collaborating with a local influencer can tap into the influencer’s followers, creating a win-win situation. This strategy has been successfully employed by entrepreneurs like Uche Pedro, founder of BellaNaija (backlink 2), who has grown her platform through strategic partnerships and collaborations. According to Harvard Business Review, collaborations among ventures often result in innovative solutions and improved market reach.

Strategies for Effective Collaboration

Identify Complementary Partners

The first step in effective collaboration is identifying partners whose strengths complement your own. Look for businesses that offer products or services that align with your objectives but do not directly compete with you. Also consider factors such as reputation, target audience, and strategic goals. A good example is the partnership between Konga and various logistics companies. By collaborating with reliable logistics partners, Konga has improved its delivery efficiency and customer satisfaction, which is crucial to its growth. Also, partnering with another business can allow you to offer a more comprehensive range of products or services, making your business more attractive to customers. However, not all collaborations will be beneficial, so choose the right partners. For example, if you own a bakery, approaching a mall with an in-house bakery isn’t a good collaboration effort but collaborating with a coffee shop is.
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Establish Clear Objectives

Before entering into a collaboration arrangement, it is important to set clear, mutually beneficial objectives. Ensure that both parties understand what they aim to achieve and how they will measure success. Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings and keeps the partnership focused. If possible, ensure all terms of the collaboration agreement are written out with each party having copies. A case in point is the partnership between Flutterwave and various e-commerce platforms in Nigeria, which aimed to streamline payment processes for online shoppers in Nigeria by allowing them to use the Flutterwave API.

Ensure Open Communication

Open and honest communication is the backbone of any successful collaboration. Regular meetings and updates can help ensure that all parties are on the same page and can address any issues promptly. Effective communication also builds trust, which is essential for long-term collaboration. In addition, when issues of disagreement arise, utilizing an already-established line of communication makes it easy to address them.

Leverage Social Media

In today’s digital age, leveraging social media can enhance collaborative efforts. As a small business owner, you can collaborate with other business owners to mention each other in posts and videos. In recent months, the Nigerian internet has been infiltrated by various videos of chefs mentioning a particular type of blender which they have various forms of collaboration with. Most popular skit makers in Nigeria understand this trick and use it often. A popular example is Macaroni’s series where some other male actors he collaborated with, come to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Share Resources and Knowledge

One of the key benefits of collaboration is the ability to share resources and knowledge. This can include sharing office space, technology, or expertise. By pooling resources, businesses can reduce costs and enhance their capabilities. For example, Nigerian agricultural startups like Farmcrowdy have successfully collaborated with local farmers, providing them with resources and knowledge to improve their farming practices, which benefits the entire ecosystem.

Measure and Evaluate the Collaboration

It’s important to measure the success of your collaborative efforts. Set key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and evaluate whether the collaboration is meeting its objectives. Regular evaluations can help identify areas for improvement and ensure that the partnership remains beneficial for all parties involved.

Adapt and Evolve

The business environment is constantly changing, and successful collaborations must be adaptable. That is, they must cater to the changes in the market and the growth of collaborating parties. So, be open to effective collaborative strategies to respond to new challenges and opportunities. Flexibility can help ensure that your collaborations remain effective and continue to drive value.
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Concluding Thoughts

Effective collaboration is a powerful strategy that can make a difference for Nigerian small business owners looking to overcome challenges and achieve growth. By sharing resources businesses can create mutually beneficial partnerships that drive success. This article has outlined several strategies that when applied, small business owners in Nigeria can address some of the complexities of entrepreneurship more effectively and build a foundation for sustainable growth.
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This article was first published on 20th June 2024


Ifegwu-Mbonu Victor is a Personal Growth and Leadership Trainer who provides training and coaching to individuals and organizations.

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