Businesses are a vital part of the local economy. They’re responsible for creating jobs, paying taxes and supporting other local businesses. Overall, they are the backbone of every community.
Yet, when a community lacks strength, businesses must jump in and contribute to help their neighbors and make it a better place for everyone. That’s why many companies band together to form a coalition. They give back to their communities in meaningful ways — from raising money for local charities to lobbying lawmakers on behalf of their members’ needs.
As a business owner, joining a coalition means being part of a group with your and your community’s backs and wanting to see everyone succeed. If you find this the right time to develop a business coalition today, here are the best ways to get started.
- Choose the Right Partners
When forming a business coalition, the most important step is finding people as motivated and focused as you. The right partners are people who share your values and vision and are willing to help you achieve success.
Otherwise, the wrong associate could lead to falling out of the coalition and may damage your reputation. The best way to avoid this is by ensuring all your coalition members are on board. When choosing your partners, they also must understand the time and effort it takes to build a coalition and make an impact on the local community.
Therefore, you should base your selection of people on the variety of skills and knowledge they bring to the table. Including people with different backgrounds will give you a better chance to accomplish more in your endeavors.
- Make Customers and Employees Part of the Coalition
During a business coalition, it’s easy to think of your customers and employees as separate entities. However, bringing these two groups together gives you an even higher chance of succeeding in your mission. Additionally, when you include your customers and employees, they’ll feel part of something bigger than themselves, advocating for you with their friends and family and serving as invaluable marketing agents for your business coalition in turn.
One of the best ways to get your customers and employees involved is by giving everyone an equal voice. This means giving customers opportunities to get together and hold discussions at town hall meetings.
You could also have your employees and customers feel like they’re making a difference by giving them paid time off to do charity work. Ask them which local charities they care about and seek non-profits that aim to match their values and your business. By being committed to supporting charities, word will spread and locals will see the good philanthropic work your business coalition is doing.
- Focus On Common Goals
As the saying goes, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In business, this is especially true. A coalition of companies that work together can achieve much more than a single company can. Yet how do you make sure your alliance remains successful?
The answer is simple — focusing on the common goals of the business and the community. This is the best way to ensure everyone involved in the coalition understands its purpose.
It may sound obvious, but getting everyone on the same page can be surprisingly challenging, so make sure your coalition has the same agenda. Doing this will clarify what everyone needs to accomplish and keep your members from getting sidetracked.
- Assign Roles and Responsibilities
You’ll need to assign roles and responsibilities to make your business coalition run smoothly. There are various ways to approach this task. The first thing you can do is create a list of all the jobs you must complete — then assign those tasks to members with experience in each area.
However, the coalition shouldn’t be as rigid as how an association operates. You’ll need to maintain a collaborative environment where people can work together. Therefore, everyone involved should understand their role and how they can contribute to the mission.
- Be Flexible and Open to Change
Flexibility and open-mindedness are two of the most important qualities for a business coalition to have. As you grow, you may need to change your goals, which means you must be willing to accept new ideas.
As part of your journey to success, you will find yourself in situations where you must make informed decisions. When you approach each case with an open mind, you can adapt quickly and effectively, especially when things don’t go as planned. This flexibility will also motivate your members to keep striving for the same goal, because when their leader is open to improving things, everyone is open to listening without judgment.
- Be Prepared to Share Power With Your Competitors
Proportioning power with your competitors in a business coalition may be complex, but it’s essential for the project’s success. Sharing your power with other business owners and competitors gives you access to more resources. It also helps you make decisions more quickly by leveraging the knowledge of your fellow coalition members.
To ensure you’re fully ready to share your power, make it easy by building relationships with business leaders in your community and establishing ground rules. These typically include respecting everyone’s opinions and implementing decision-making rules. Having these rules in place is truly vital so no one finds themselves in confrontational situations.
- Developing a Business Coalition
A business coalition is a great way to get involved in the community and strengthen the local economy. Ensure yours succeeds by staying committed to making it happen and leveraging the support from other community members.
Written by Jane Marsh.
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