Business and entrepreneurship is in my blood. Just like many of you whose parents have immigrated from other countries, my parents came to the states with nothing and built their American dream. I've watched them go from working tirelessly in the fishing industry to owning multiple hotels. That alone is a huge factor in my desire to go through my own process to build my dream life. A lot of what I practice is adapted from a combination of my previous careers, trial and error, and from acutely observing others. So, I figured it would be helpful to share some things I'm learning along the way!
The first thing that comes to mind in our creative ecosystem? Collaborating. It is an essential skill that every business person and creative entrepreneur should harness whether you're a photographer, a graphic designer, or a creative director. It's very difficult to build something completely on your own because, well, no one is good at everything. You're going to need to tap into people who are specialists and experts. But, there are good collaborations and then there are ones that leave us feeling shortchanged. At the end of the day, it's all about building healthy relationships. I want to work with people who respect my work and truly care about me, not just the project at hand. And, I approach people with the same respect. Here are six tips to help you create quality collaborations.
- Be Brave. No one likes to be or feel rejected, but if you don't ask to work with someone then you'll never know!
- Be Prepared. Create a small plan of your project with intentions of leaving decisions open for discussion.
- Be Fair. If you're initiating a collaboration, make sure you bring value to the project through fair payments or providing meaningful portfolio work to the person you are approaching. Everyone is busy so in order to produce a resentment-free collaboration, you must value and respect each other's time and work.
- Be Delightfully Business. It's never easy to ask to be paid for your craft/service, but the truth is you have to protect your bottom line. Keep communication clear from the get-go and approach each collaboration as a business transaction. The key is to be delightful but to show that you mean business. If the return is not monetary, clearly discuss this from the beginning.
- Be Genuine. 'Collaborating' can be easily misunderstood for using people for their networks and resources or getting pro-bono work. By all means don't let yourself look like all you're in it for is to grow your brand. You don't have to be BFFs, but being genuine adds value to your business and your character.
- Follow up. The best way to know if the collaboration went well? Ask for feedback and reflect on the wins and the losses through qualitative and quantitative measures. This will give you insight on how to improve for future collaborations.
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