Collaborating with peers: the best way to build a new business?

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Collaborating with peers: the best way to build a new business?

An interesting piece we spotted lately in The Guardian advocates collaboration as the best way to form or grow your new business in today’s world.

No more the lone maverick, suggests the piece.

And mixing in a network can also protect you from predators and pitfalls, and keep you in the loop on new thinking.

‘There was a time’, it starts, ‘when the lone-genius business founder was revered – the Howard Hughes type who operated in secret, acting only on intuition.’

No longer.

Looking outward

Today, according to this commentator, the answer is in working at least alongside others.

‘That time has passed’, says The Guardian, ‘and now instead of looking within ourselves to find inspiration, entrepreneurs are looking outward and coming together to support each other, collaborate, test and exchange ideas.’

Does that sound right to you?

The author of the piece, Steven Drost, Chief Strategy Officer of Edinburgh-based tech incubator CodeBase, recounts his experience of sitting on a panel at a Guardian Business Made Simple discussion in September.

Incubator or accelerator

Here, he says, they debated ‘whether incubators (which support startups at the early stages) or accelerators (which aim to drive the growth of companies with a business model in place) are the holy grail for startups’.

Whether official or more spontaneous, the verdict seems to be, peer groups can be invaluable – though they’ll only ever be part of the jigsaw.

‘What we all agreed on, was that being part of any programme can never be an end in itself, and should only ever be viewed as an instrument for building a successful company.’


But in Steven Drost’s view, according to this piece, your very best option, as an entrepreneur in the modern world, ‘is working together with a network of your peers, or what I call “clustering”.’

He sees, he writes, ‘many benefits of joining these clusters’.

Whether part of an incubator, an accelerator, or just ‘a supportive co-working space’, those benefits are palpable.

‘You meet likeminded people who are as driven as you. You can find (friendly) rivalries, possible co-founders, partners, advisers, investors and employees much more easily than you could if you were building your company in isolation.’

And there’s more.

Comparing notes

‘Forming a network also allows you to stay on top of the most recent business thinking and gives you people to bounce ideas off and compare notes with.’ This helps.

‘A good community of peers can help protect you from bad advisers, which is crucial if you are a fledgling startup.’

The idea is, with a network, you’ll compare notes and quickly notice if people are veering into poor practice.

You’ll also have that peer group to discuss your best routes to funding, say.

Look before you leap

But one word of caution: do a bit of research before you plump for a peer group.

This is the note The Guardian piece ends on.

Gather people around you. Just make sure they’re the right ones for you.

‘Before trying to change the world by building a startup,’ suggests Steven Drost, ‘make sure you are informed, especially before you become part of an incubator or accelerator – do your research to join the right one for you.’

Think before you leap. Then leap!

‘You have a better chance of success if you have the right environment to work in. And that environment isn’t about ping pong and free beer – it’s about good people.’

See the full piece over in The Guardian.

And good luck, finding your tribe.

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