Advice:Stop, collaborate and listen!

By , published on 19th August 2010

Teamwork makes a dream workRecently I spent an extraordinary one-to-one mentoring session with one of my clients. Our discussion inspired me to consider how people join forces to get things done – and what can be the downside of avoiding this opportunity.

My client (let’s call her Miss ABC) is one of the most creative, encouraging and thought provoking educators that I have had the pleasure to work with. She is currently a supply teacher at an inner-city school and her insight into the dynamics between teaching staff at the school is both fascinating and disheartening.

The culture within the school is very much “every person for themselves” – sharing resources, peer support, contacts and even friendship seems to be frowned upon… unless you ask for it. And even then, you’re not likely to receive it without appearing needy, unprofessional or lazy.

Miss ABC specialises in creating a learning environment that is accessible to all of her students, no matter what their abilities currently are. She has devised and developed a huge range of methods to support progress in learning and is skilled at opening up opportunities to those kids who were previously disregarded by her predecessors in favour of those students who are the cream of the crop.

Wouldn’t you have loved to have a teacher like that?
Wouldn’t you have loved all of your teachers to be like that?

Is it possible?

Miss ABC would love to share her ideas, plans and methods with others. She is proud of her work, resources and contacts. Most of all, she can see the benefit it would have for each student who walks through the school gates every day. However, if you are the only one sharing and everyone else is taking without paying back or even paying forward, resentment, resistance and defiance soon set in. If this working culture takes hold and inspiration, progression and development soon stagnate.

Miss ABC is losing her focus on her main goals to enable prospects for every kid in her class. Her outstanding commitment to creating an environment of accessible learning that is fun, relevant and useful for teachers, students and even parents could soon be lost. Thankfully Miss ABC has enough self awareness to know she wants support and through our work together, she will find new ways to face these challenges and achieve her own definition of success.

So, how can we learn from this as entrepreneurs?


Having been self employed for a few years, I know the importance of surrounding myself with useful people. It can be lonely working for yourself and it’s often impossible to answer your own questions. Having a reliable, well informed and supportive network is vital to unlocking hidden success routes. It’s also more fun than going it alone! To know that there are others out there who you can call on is reassuring and can even help you to make some big decisions in order to move forward with your venture. As human beings we are always tuned into WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and it’s worth being honest about this to spot the opportunities.

Joining forces and pooling resources is a way for me to become the person I want to be within my business and in everything that I do. It is also reassuring that there are plenty of people who share this attitude.

Build your gang

Building your gang is one of the most important activities you can spend time doing in business. Not only are you creating your own success story, but you’re adding to others’ in return. You become the one people think of first when they need a reliable contact. This is the essence of purposeful networking. It’s about introducing the people you know to the people who need them and being seen as the useful link in between – the days of hard sell and pushing business cards into strangers’ hands are over. Thankfully!

What’s already in your kit bag?

There are huge benefits to recognising your own skills, talents and knowledge so that you can identify the gaps. By doing this you have the opportunity to seek out people who can help you to fill them by teaching you new skills. In turn you develop your confidence and awareness of what is really possible.


But it’s not just about answering the questions you may have. Collaborating with other people can really boost your business’s potential in terms of the perception others may have of your reputation and ability to deliver. If you can team up with another person or business that adds credibility and strength to your offering, it could be the reassurance your prospective client needs to choose you over your competitors.

Business is about interacting with others and you need to surround yourself with like-minded, useful, supportive, challenging, inspiring, realistic and motivating people.

Think of people you can collaborate with – consider your customers, suppliers, friends, peers, competitors. Create your team and become part of others’. When it works and other people helped, share that success with them. Let them know – thank them and remind them they were involved.

Good luck!

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Jenny Biddulph

About Jenny Biddulph

Jenny Biddulph is an enterprise coach and mentor specialising in helping business owners become the people they want to be. Jenny's approach is one of collaboration, forward thinking, getting things done and encouraging you to celebrate the successes with those that helped you get there. She has brains for thinking and feet for dancing.

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