How To Collaborate Like A Boss

Have you ever had a collaboration go horribly, horribly wrong? It happens, but it's not the end of the world. I've created this handy little guide to help the next collaboration for your creative business run smoothly.

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1. What do you want to get out of it?  Be specific. Are you interested in tapping into their social network or newletter list? Do they have a specific skill that you do not, which would benefit your audience? A good creative business collaboration is like a good marriage. Communication, communication, communication. 

2. What do they want to get out of it? You need to know this. Get clear on what their expectations are and decide whether or not you can meet them. Be honest. It's fun to think about a "best case scenario" that occurs when every single one of your followers on social media decides to follow your collaborator, too.  However, part of your job as a collaborator is to manage your partner's expectations. It's always better to under promise and over deliver.

3. Create a joint mission statement. This is a good litmus test to see if you can really move forward. If you have a hard time creating a joint mission statement, then your collaboration is going to be a nightmare. Trust me. It's easy to jump right into the superficial aspects of a collaboration, like the design, because that's the fun part. However, if you don't have a mission, then you will run into major problems later on. 

4. How will you split the profits? A collaboration isn't always a 50/50 split, and there isn't anything wrong with that. You don't always need a 50/50 split to ensure your collaboration is profitable for you and beneficial to your audience. If you want a 50/50 split, think of what you can do to justify it. If you want to plan a loop giveaway with someone that has a bigger audience than you, perhaps you can make a larger financial contribution to the prize. 

5. Why did you decide to split them that way? Remember, this is a collaboration. You both have to feel like you are getting a great deal. If one party feels the least bit slighted, it won't work. Be generous. I always like to err on the side of generosity to increase my chances for future collaborations. You don't want to build a stingy reputation for yourself.

6. How long do you propose this collaboration continue? There are two types of collaborations: Open Ended and Finite. Even if you are doing an open ended collaboration, you may have very different definitions of what that means. To you it may be 1 year or more, but to your partner it may be a few months. 

7. What is your plan if either of you decide to bail? Life happens. Unforeseeable circumstances may lead to an abrupt end to your collaboration. In order to avoid bad feelings, it's best to plan for the worst. What exit strategy will leave both parties feeling respected? It is disappointing if your ideal scenario didn't work out, but that doesn't mean you can't work together in the future. Remember to keep your reputation in tact. If your collaboration doesn't work out, your partner will be talking. Ideal comment: "I'm so bummed this didn't work out, but Caitlin handled it like a boss. I hope to work with her again in the future." Worst thing ever: "OMG. I'm never working with Caitlin again."