How to Build Collaborative Teams of Independent Professionals

By MBO Partners | May 18, 2022

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Finding a way to grow as a small business owner can be a challenge. Teaming up with another independent professional is a great solution—a partnership can bring new skills to the table, help you manage your workload, or even land that big project you’ve had your eye on.

Once you’ve decided to partner with another independent and you’ve found the person you want to work with, you’ll want to focus your efforts on building the base for a successful working relationship. There’s a lot of details to consider when adding another person to your team. Follow these three steps to start out your new partnership on the right foot.

1. Consider How You Will Collaborate

One of the main keys to successfully working out a deal with another independent is to think of them somewhat as prospective clients. You would never approach a client proposal from the angle of how much you’d benefit from landing the job; instead, you’d focus on how what you can do would benefit them.

When approaching another independent with the idea of working together, focus the conversation on how they would benefit from collaborating and working with you on this project.

Check out: Project Collaboration: How to Build a Team of Consultants

2. Use a Written Contract

Although you are both business professionals and have experience working independently, don’t make the mistake of assuming that professional respect and courtesy make a written contract unnecessary. On the contrary, it is very important to establish a clearly written formal contract when teaming up with another independent.

A formal contract will not only protect you both as consultants, but it will benefit the client as well. Use your contract as a place to outline roles and responsibilities, state project deliverables and milestones, and define how you will handle payment of both parties.

Check out: How to Write an Independent Contractor Agreement

3. Discuss Roles and Responsibilities

When two people who are used to working alone are suddenly partnered on a project, there may be a bit of an adjustment period—or, worse yet, a power struggle. There is an even greater possibility of this if roles are not clearly defined. When collaborating with another independent to work on a project, defining roles and responsibilities should be an early step in your process.

Clearly spell out whether one person will be managing the project, or if responsibilities will be shared equally, who will be the point of contact with the client, and who is responsible for each specific deliverable or project component. With clearly defined roles and a strong communication process in place, the project will run more smoothly, and you’ll leave with a satisfied client and a lasting teaming relationship.

Check out: Pros and Cons of Business Partnerships and Teaming


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