Episode #169 The Power of Collaboration

August 15, 2023

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You are listening to My Freedom Grove podcast with Gretchen Hernandez, episode 169.

Welcome to My Freedom Grove Podcast, your calm space for practical help to get your dream business up and running while being authentically you and taking care of your mental health. I'm your host, Gretchen Hernandez. I'm so glad you're here!



Hi, My Strong Friends.


Hey!  Do you know one of the benefits of being an entrepreneur versus being an employee? 


I would say collaboration. 




Let me back up a little bit, and first tell you about why I didn't quite feel this as much as an employee. Now, when I worked in corporate, I was lucky enough that at one point, I worked in one amazing group for 10 years, where we were very collaborative, helping everybody helping each other, we were all about customer service. 


Everybody got along, it was group celebration all of the time. And a lot of people wanted to come and work in our group. In fact, we affectionately called it lollipop land, because everything felt so good, and everybody was happy and laughing. 


So that's the power of collaboration, it increases your engagement, everybody wins, the people doing the work, the customers of that work, everybody wins. 


Then I also had the unfortunate experience of working in a group where there was competition, and competition doesn't feel as good. Now, some people thrive on competition, they love it, it works for them. And if so that's fine. 


I'm not one of those people, I don't like the competition, where you're actually trying to hope that the other people don't do as well. Because when you do that, sometimes it can bring out some pretty bad qualities in you. And it's not good for anybody's mental health, when you're always trying to struggle and one up the other person or worry about the other people if they're supporting you or not. It's just not healthy. 




So I prefer collaboration. And as an entrepreneur, I can choose to only work with people that like collaboration. And when I witness a group where they prefer to do competition, or to say negative things about each other behind their back. I know that's not the group that I want to be associated with. 


I prefer collaboration, because I strongly believe that We Rise Together. 


That's why I have the Unshakable Business Co-Lab so that everybody can come together, collaborate, and help each other. 


We All Rise Together


And I like to take this further out beyond just my group, it's the way that I like to do business. I like to collaborate with other entrepreneurs, and businesses, so that we can all rise together. And we all help our customers to do even better. 


I think you've noticed that by me bringing different people onto this podcast, I interview them because I know that they have other things to offer you that could really help you. I don't have to be the one and only business to support you. So I like to surround everybody with that village of love and give you everything that you need. 


So let's focus on you as an entrepreneur and your business. 


Have you ever wished that you could do something, but it seemed out of reach? 


Maybe it was price prohibitive, or you had limited bandwidth, maybe you didn't have a big enough audience or you're missing some type of skill set that you wanted to have, because you knew that the value for your customers would just shoot through the roof. 


Now you may have considered hiring employees or maybe even taking out business loans so that you could expand. But honestly, that feels a little scary, and maybe you're not quite ready for it. 


So what if there was another way? And there is it's called collaboration. 


Of course, you knew that was coming, right? Everything is better when we do it together. So not only are you bringing diversity of thoughts and experiences to the table, you're also bringing that diversity of resources. 


In today's episode, I'm going to touch on three types of collaborations: 

  1. Financial Collaborations
  2. Bandwidth and Skill Collaborations 
  3. Audience Collaborations




So first financial collaboration. So this is when there's something that you want to do but financially it's just out of reach. Maybe it's a little out of reach. Or maybe it's really big and out of reach. But you know that there is a major opportunity for your business to take a leap forward. 


So what are ways that this might present itself in your business? And what can you do about it? So I'm going to give you a couple of different examples, and see where we go. Let's get you some inspiration. 



I was recently presented with the opportunity of being a vendor at the Small Business Expo in San Francisco. You've heard me mention this one a couple of times; this is happening on August 18, in San Francisco, and I'd love for you to come out. 

In order to be a vendor, it's kind of pricey. In fact, you know, me, I like to be honest and transparent. It was a $4,000 investment in order to have a vendor table. 


Now, this seemed like a great benefit for my business, because I would have exposure to not only 3000 entrepreneurs and small business owners, I'd also get to do speed networking. And they offered the opportunity to provide a webinar that would be promoted out to their email list of 1.2 million small business owners. 


This is amazing! Talk about a concentrated audience pool of my ideal clients, this is great. 


So great opportunity for me, but $4,000 is a lot of money. 


So I decided to collaborate with one of my colleagues, and she's also a business coach. And so we decided that we would split the cost down the middle. And we would figure out a way that we could co host the booth, we could co-do the networking. (“Co-do” what a weird word, right?) And that we would co-present on this webinar. 


So that might be something for you to consider; if there is something that has a big financial investment, but also has a huge opportunity for return on that investment. Is there somebody else that you could collaborate with? And if you happen to offer very similar skills? How would you divide that up, who would take care of one set of the population who would take care of another set of the population? So that's one example. 




Another one is office space. Now I know a lot of us will work from home. But of course, we start to think about how much better life could be if we had our own office space away from our house, and maybe even away from our dogs. You know, I've got those five dogs at home, so they make some noise occasionally. So what about leasing shared space? 


So you might have seen this out in the world. There's a big shopping store called Kohl's. And they've recently collaborated with Sephora, which is a beauty products company. So they have one building that they lease together. But both businesses are represented. 


I've also seen this with Kentucky Fried Chicken and A&W, they also: one building, they split the cost. And they have both of those businesses. They're using all of the equipment and serving their customers. And I've also seen this for Subway and gas stations. So it doesn't have to be that everybody's coming there for the same reason. It's just your customers come to one place, and they have multiple needs. 


So how does this pertain to you because maybe you're not selling clothes, or makeup or food or gas. What about office space for rent? So I found this website called wework.com. And they help you to search and find places where you could rent office space. And this could be just renting a desk in a shared space with other people that also work virtually and they just need a desk. 


They also offer that you can rent just an entire office for yourself. So you don't have to share; or a whole floor. They also offer training rooms and event spaces. And this is the part that I really, really like. They give you the opportunity to rent either by the full month, or just by the day or here. Just by the hour. 


How great would that be?


Especially let's say you wanted to meet a client in person instead of just virtually. What if there was a very professional building where you could just go and rent an hour or two so that you have a place for your client to come meet you? That is not your home. So wework.com That's one of those resources, but know that there's other resources out there too. where you can rent office space. 


Now I originally had this inspiration when I went on a little romantic getaway to a town called Cobb here in California. And I saw a coffee shop, and the coffee shop had the right vibe. I loved the vibe of it; it even had a little library area with cushy chairs, and everything was really colorful. But they had this separate office, and it looked like you might even be able to rent that office space. 


And I thought, How amazing would that be? For when I want to meet my clients in person, they could come and enjoy some great coffee, maybe even enjoy sitting there in this nice colorful library type of area, and be able to come and have a meeting with me? 


I thought that would be great. And then it's just one rental cost for the whole building. But that coffee shop then sublets out just that one office. 


I also considered when I first moved out here to the coast of my hair salon. So my hair salon had a massage room that was only used some of the time by a massage therapist who didn't work every single day. And I thought well, that's underutilized space, which we talked about TIMWOODS in the previous episodes, of waste in business and underutilized space or resources is one of those ways. 


So my hairstylist was paying for the whole rental place anyway. And here was a space that wasn't being utilized. So I could always offer to rent that space on the days that the massage therapist wasn't using it. So then my hairstylist has extra money contributed to her lease, but I also have my own space and benefit. Some of her customers might also be interested in my services. So it gives me something affordable and also might combine some audience there. 


Then my sister who is a boudoir photographer, when she first started her business, she wanted to have her own studio but needed something affordable. Because you know, beginning of your business, you don't quite have all the clientele yet. And she actually found this beautiful adult boutique upscale where, you know, it has nice clothes and everything. And they had an available space behind their boutique. So she rented that space for her studio. And it was a great arrangement. 


So what are some things that you think are financially out of reach for you right now, but it poses a great return on investment? And is there a way that you could collaborate with another business owner to share that cost, and it ends up being a win-win for both of you. 




Now, let's talk about bandwidth and skill collaborations. 


So have you ever had really great business ideas, but you know that the amount of time investment is going to be a lot or maybe it will require some extra infrastructure that you don't have yet. Or maybe you have a client population that has a diverse set of needs, and you're really good at part of it. But there's this other part that you know that if they had helped with that they would do even better. 


That's where the bandwidth and skill collaborations come in. 




As you know, I'm one of the coaches in Dr. Sonia Wright’s Lit (*)lit Club. And this is for women to have a magnificent life inside and outside the bedroom. Now to create a membership like this, that takes care of women inside and outside the bedroom that can cover a lot of different topics. So she brought in several different coaches that all specialize in different topics. 


I happen to be there for LGBT and for work stress; I absolutely love that. But also, I'm helping with the behind the scenes support because Dr. Sonia is involved in a lot of other things and has limited bandwidth to create all of the infrastructure. But that happens to be one of my strong skill sets. So I also work behind the scenes with her helping her to create all of that infrastructure and to keep the program running smoothly. 


So this is a great example of how you can pull together your skills. You can still be separate business owners, you're just coming up with the financial arrangement that works for both of you. But when you pool together some of your skill sets, then you can do big things together. 




Another unique thing is job-sharing. Now let's say that there's a job that you want. It's a 40-hour job. It's an employee job, but you just want to work part time. Well, have you ever approached the company and just asked, Hey, can I do that but work part time? Oftentimes, they're gonna say, probably not, because they have a need for that job to actually be full time. But what if you could job-share? 


Okay, so this is the idea that I wanted to share with you, workmuse.com brings together professionals that want to share a full time job. So there's one job that requires a specific skill set, and it pays a full time salary to one person. 


Work Muse helps to bring together people that have those same skill sets, where together, they can take care of that job, but each contributes to it. So each can work part time. So the employer is getting all of their needs met. But you also have two employees now that can work part time. So work news.com. Pretty cool idea. 




One of the other things that popped up recently in discussions with several of my work peers is backfilling. So occasionally, as entrepreneurs, we would like to take vacation. And we'd also need to take sick days every once in a while. Something you might not think about because as an employee, that's already taken care of for you, you already have vacation time set aside, or you have other people, other co-workers that can fill in when you're sick. 


But when you're an entrepreneur, what do you do if you want to take vacation or sick time. So some of the larger companies will turn to temp agencies. So a temp agency will have people that already have those skill sets for you. And you can reach out to them and they send over a temp for you. 


Now, this sounds great. But in your business, maybe you have a different skill set where that temp agency doesn't necessarily have those skills. So this is also one of those cool things that is a business idea for anyone out there. There are a lot of us that are in the coaching industry or in the healing industry. And we need people with our exact type of skill sets.


What if there was a coaching temp agency that pulls together people that have all of these different skill sets? And those people are then available to hire when we need a substitute. Now that would be great. 


In the meantime, we just start to meet other people that have similar skill sets that we can ask to come and fill in for us. And so I have one of those coming up in September where I've been asked to backfill into a physician entrepreneur membership. 


So I have all of those entrepreneurial skills. I have some of that medical language from working in biotech and being a microbiologist. The business owner here is going to be going on vacation to another country and needs someone to come and backfill. So she reached out to me to backfill. 


And it's something that's weighed on my mind, too, is that sometimes I need to step away. And I need to find someone that has my type of skill set that could fill in for me. So I've talked to a couple of different people, but I haven't found the right taker yet, the right person that has the right skill set, but also the right vibe. 


So as you know, I have kind of a softer touch with people. And I have others that have my skill set, but they don't have that softer touch. So something to consider if you're looking for a great business idea, that temp agency that can backfill for coaches or for healers out in the world. 


So here's another one. It's a little bit bigger in scale than our traditional work from home entrepreneurs. So I used to work for a company called Genentech, and the plant that I worked at was the world's largest biotechnology manufacturing facility. It had capacity to make huge, huge batches of medicine all at the same time. And these were biological medicine, so it's not just like chemicals mixed together. This is cell cultures and DNA. 


So during the pandemic, there was a company called Regeneron. And they specialized in creating new medicine and they created one called Rana Prevx. I think that's how you pronounce it. Don't hold me to it, but it's basically a treatment for COVID. And they needed to create it on a mass scale because we had a lot of people that were suffering from COVID that needed treatment. 


So they didn't have the facilities, the infrastructure to create this medicine on a grand scale. But Genentech did, but Genentech didn't create that medicine. So they decided to collaborate together, one company would bring their formula basically, and the other one would lend in their infrastructure. So combined, they filled a huge, huge customer need. And they use the resources that they both had. And they collaborated. 


So what are some big ideas that you might have for your business that you know that your customers would absolutely love they'd really appreciate. But maybe you just don't have the bandwidth to do it. You don't have the time, you don't have all of the skill sets. Maybe you don't have the infrastructure.  


What are those big ideas? And then who are the other business owners out there? Who would complement what you have? And could you explore collaboration? What would that look like? What becomes possible for you, when you open yourselves up to that type of a collaboration? 




Alright, the final one I want to talk about is audience collaboration. 


So as entrepreneurs, we all need to market our business in some way. So that people know that our business exists, they know what type of services that we offer. And then of course, they can purchase those products or services if they want to. 


Well, it takes a while to figure out how to do that marketing and to create an audience. Because most of the time, a customer is not going to learn about your business just one time and decide, okay, yes, I want to make a purchase, it takes a while for them to develop a relationship with you to understand what your business is to hear it enough time to know who you are to start to know like and trust you. 


So that's why we talk about it being an audience, because you're gathering all of these people. And you're starting to nurture them, so that you have that relationship together. Now, obviously, if you have a larger audience, you have a better chance for more sales. 


So what happens if you just have a small audience and you want to expand it, you can either do that all on your own takes some work to build your audience, but completely doable. But what if there was a way to accelerate that? What if there was somebody else out there that also had your audience that maybe they don't offer exactly what you offer, but when you pool everybody together, that now that pool of audience is much larger? And they have multiple services that could help them? 


So that's where audience collaboration comes in. 


You might have also heard this referred to in other places as either borrowing someone else's audiences, or buying someone else's audience. Now, I don't really like the buying of the audience that feels kind of yucky. 


And one of the things presented to me for the small business expo was the opportunity to buy the list of all of the participants that came, I could spend several thousand more. And just buy the list of all 3000 participants that came, they've already opted in to be on the email list of anybody that's there, that's set up by the expo. So people already bought in. So it's completely legitimate, GDPR compliant, everything. 


But I didn't like that. I prefer to actually develop a relationship with people. And that's why I chose to go more for the speed networking, and that vendor table and the webinar so that people can get to know me, it's not that I'm going to just go buy that list. 




So trade events are a great way where you can do audience collaborations. What I like about the Small Business Expo is their skill set is event coordination. They don't necessarily have all of the content that they need in order to support their clients. 


So they bring everybody together, they bring together the people that want the help for their businesses, and all of the businesses that provide help to other businesses. And then they give the opportunity for business owners like me to provide the content. They're creating that huge audience. I provide content and then their audience can choose if they want to come and develop a further relationship with me. So you can do that too. It doesn't matter what industry you're in. 


There are trade events out there for you. And you can either rent a space like I did, getting your own booth, or you could just show up because it's a concentrated pool of people that are interested in your topic. And you're just mingling around and meeting them. Or if there's a speed networking event, you have that opportunity to. 




The next one is conferences. So large conferences like the professional business women of California conference brings together thousands and thousands of people. Again, their specialty is the event creation and bringing everybody together, but they need the content, and the workshop leaders to be there. 


So they'll offer keynote speaking, workshop breakouts, they even have virtual bookstore. And when they were doing in person events, they'd have the bookstore there in person so people could buy it. So that way, you have the opportunity to get in front of a thousand people that might be interested in what you're doing, you don't have to bring that audience yourself, you just bring the content. 




Summits are another way. I participated in the Shadowside Leadership Summit back in May to help people with their mental health. And with this, again, we have an organizer. She had a skill set, so she was presenting. But also she was gathering a whole bunch of people with different skill sets to present to everybody that came to that summit. 


And then I decided that I wanted to do another collaboration within that collaboration. And so I invited another coach to come and present with me. So we did a webinar, talking about the Drama Triangle and the Empowerment Triangle, which you'll learn about in last week's episode. 


But we presented it from different vantage points. I talked about it from a business and work perspective. And she talked about it from a dating and relationship perspective; same tool that works in multiple ways. So it was a great collaboration for us to talk about that to help lots of people in different ways. Plus, we got to be part of a larger summit that talked about a variety of different topics, all to support people in their mental health. 




And then this final one that I want to talk about, I'm really, really excited. Sometimes you may notice that there's an event that is serving a really big population of your ideal clients, but they haven't met all of the needs of the people that are there. 


And so one of those that's coming up is a mastermind event. This is a two day event where lunch isn't provided. And there's no structured networking. 


So it's an amazing event filled with speakers and an award presentation. But it doesn't actually have lunch, the two day event for a lot of people, and no structured networking. And what I've learned about this population of folks is that there are a lot of introverts, we're having conversations with other people can be kind of a challenge. 


So when you're left to your own devices, and you're an introvert, the number of people that you meet is going to be kind of small, and you have the opportunity to meet tons of people at big events like this. 


So I actually have collaborated with another coach that heads up the Coaching Posse, which is an alumni association for the Life Coach School. And we are putting on the Coaching Posse Networking Extravaganza


So this is filling a need by providing lunch and providing speed networking, so that people can get to know each other. And it's structured, and it helps everybody have those conversations. And we're going to also be presenting collaboration opportunities. 


So this is so exciting. And it pulls together our audiences; our different skill sets. And it adds on to another event that was already happening. We're not competing with the event, we're doing it right after the event, and we're filling an unmet need. 


So all together, it's a win-win-win situation. It also provides another collaboration opportunity. 


When you're bringing together a large group of people, you might decide that you want to do special games and provide prizes. So then that gives an opportunity to other entrepreneurs to provide their products or services into prize baskets. And so this is their way of being in front of that audience, even if they're not there in person, because now they're getting their marketing materials out in front of other people. 


And of course, there are opportunities for events like this where you can also purchase a sponsorship opportunity. So maybe you're not providing materials, but you're providing some money that is going into funding the event and all of the activities that happen there. These are all great ways that you could do audience collab operations. 


Think about, who are other businesses out there that might have your audience that either they are not providing the same types of products and services as you, they might need your content to support their events. Or maybe there's some other type of unmet need, where you could jump in. 


Now this, again, is not for competition. This is for collaboration, how can you make that a win win win for everybody? And how can you definitely make this a win for yourself, you're able to do bigger things with a potential higher return on investment, when you collaborate with other people. 


Because We Rise Together. 


I hope that you've had a lot of inspiration from this episode, I can't wait to see what type of collaboration ideas you have. 


And if you happen to be an alumni of The Life Coach School, and by alumni mean that you have certified at some point with the Life Coach School, you don't have to have active status. It's just you've gone through there. 


And you would like to come together with other people that have also been an alumni of The Life Coach School, I'd like to invite you to come to the Coaching Posse Networking Extravaganza. This is going to be on Friday, September 8, starting at approximately 12:30. This is at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, Texas. And again, we're going to have lunch, we're going to have networking, speed networking, so it's structured, it's easy, it's fun, there will be prizes, and there are also collaboration opportunities for you. 


So if you're interested, please head over to my website at https://www.myfreedomgrove.com/networking  so you can reserve your spot. I would be so delighted to see you there. 


Alright, my friends. I hope you have a wonderful week and I'll talk with you soon. 


Bye. Bye.



Thank you for listening to My Freedom Grove Podcast. When you are ready to make your dream business a reality and take care of your mental health, I invite you to join the Unshakable Business Co-Lab. This is the mastermind membership you've been waiting for. There's no limits on your imagination, nor your timeline. We're with you every step of the way. To learn more, please visit www.myfreedomgrove.com/join. I'll see you there!


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