By Ellen H. Parlapiano and Patricia Cobe
When businesswomen join forces, there’s no limit to what they can achieve together.
Every day on our MompreneursOnline.com message boards, we meet smart women entrepreneurs who forge powerful alliances, online and off. Whether promoting each other’s businesses, bartering products and services, or championing a good cause, they’ve uncovered one very important entrepreneurial success secret: When women work together, everybody wins.
Here are five ways that you can buddy up with fellow entrepreneurs to achieve personal and professional success:
1.) Cross-promote: Know someone whose product or service complements yours? Expand your reach, together.
Mary Carlic of The Wren’s Den makes handcrafted soaps, featuring local artists’ designs on her packaging. She asked painter Michelle Masters—who creates topiary-themed gifts at MichelleMasters.com—to design labels for a special gardener’s soap. Michelle provided a charming illustration of a topiary wheelbarrow and brought a batch of the soaps to test market at the Philadelphia Flower Show. They sold out quickly. Now, when Michelle approaches boutique owners with her gifts, she tells them about Mary’s soaps too. In turn, Mary presents Michelle’s line to her wholesalers. Merchandising together maximizes exposure for both women.
2.) Champion a cause: Donate your time, talents and networking skills toward something philanthropic.
Lisa Otto is owner of Boutique Up Daily, a business that connects retailers with mom-owned products. When a baby in her neighborhood was badly burned in a fire, she helped a friend pull together a benefit, rallying her businesswomen contacts to donate products for a silent auction that raised over $15,000 for the family. Not only did Lisa promote good will, she attracted local media coverage. “It feels great knowing that you can be so beneficial to someone in their time of need,” she says.
3.) Co-host a Twitter party: Twitter is the hottest way to instantly spread the word about your business. (Sign up at Twitter.com, start following entrepreneurs you already know, and begin building a loyal following.) Want to be even trendier? Throw a Twitter party.
Julie Northrop, founder of FreeBirthdayTreats.com, and Tori Tait, who runs an event-planning website called ThoughtfullySimple.com, co-host the monthly FBT Twitter Birthday Bash. Tori shares party planning ideas, Julie reveals birthday deals and freebies, and they raffle off products donated by other entrepreneurs. They also highlight birthday-related charities. “The parties are a fun way to promote our own businesses, while paying it forward,” says Tait.
4.) Barter to save money: Need a website design update, or a press release written? Ask a fellow entrepreneur to do it, and offer to “pay” with your services or products. Bartering even comes in handy for personal gift-giving.
Thinking ahead to Christmas, entrepreneurs Cindy Chrysler and Amber Star are teaming up. Amber’s kids have been longing for a handcrafted barn, like those made by Cindy’s husband. Cindy says her children love personalized items, like the blankets that Amber creates at BabyFabulous.com. So thanks to a little collective bargaining, both families’ wishes are coming true this holiday season.
5.) Start your own networking group: Connecting online is important, but nothing beats face-to-face networking.
As a new mom with a burgeoning home-based business, Tisha Pelletier was extremely busy yet isolated. This Arizona entrepreneur had recently left the corporate world to start Simply Put Marketing and missed the daily camaraderie of a “traditional” office. When an article was written about her, it drew attention from other local home business owners who shared those feelings of isolation. So Tisha reached out to them and formed a local networking group. The first meeting was a huge success.
But the teamwork didn’t stop there. We asked Tisha if she’d like to head up our first Mompreneurs® Live local networking chapter, and a new partnership was born. We provide additional support, like teleconferences and webinars, and will link her with other Mompreneurs® Live local groups, when they roll out this Fall. And we benefit from Tisha’s marketing expertise. She’s even helping us plan our first Mompreneurs® award event!
Partnerships like these are powerful and empowering. So start teaming up now to be an Architect of Change in your business and personal life.
Ellen Parlapiano and Patricia Cobe are founders of MompreneursOnline.com, a one-stop resource for mom entrepreneurs, and authors of the Mompreneurs® series of books. They have been go-to experts on entrepreneurship for over a decade, and are the women who coined, popularized and trademarked the catchy word "mompreneurs."