Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Growing together

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     to help you better manage your small business.

     Informal arrangements between two or more small business can help both. These are not formal partnerships--that's another subject. 

     But small businesses can share the costs of space and expenses. This arrangement works best with businesses that don't compete with each other but target the same or similar markets.

     Example: Dr. Smith is an ophthalmologist. He wanted to move into larger office space, and at the same time he decided to form an informal relationship with an audiologist. In new offices they maintain their practices entirely separate, but they share the expense of common areas and a single receptionist who serves the two. It's the new Eyes & Ears place in town. 

     A spillover of clients and referrals can occur when two non-competing medical practitioners come together at the same location. Think chiropractors and nutritionists, podiatrists and massage specialists, dermatologists and psychotherapist. Even tradespeople (plumbers, electricians and others) can explore having a common office that can eventually grow into a one-call service for homeowners.  

     Example: Artists and artisans can find it too expensive to afford a working studio that is open to the buying public. But a jewelry maker and a fiber artist can share space without getting in each other's way. By coordinating schedules, one of them is always on hand to answer phones and handle customers. Some take it the next level--with several artists sharing the same big studio. Potters, for example, can share kilns and space. They can welcome the public every day of the week or hold events from time to time. 

     Example: Massage therapists, nutritionists, hypnotherapists and holistic practitioners can benefit by coming together in a shared location. There are instances when these types of informal arrangements grew into full-fledged wellness centers or spa operations.

     You need to think through the benefits and drawbacks of any such arrangement before proceeding. Does is fit in your long term goals? Will it help you in the marketplace? Are you compatible with the other person and the business that will now be next to yours? 

     Growing together is about much more than saving money. Yes, you can save real dollars by sharing space and expenses. But if you cannot get along with the other person, don't do it.