10 small business collaboration ideas to grow sales

Editorial Team

6 min read
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Small business collaboration can be a great way to increase your exposure and boost sales. Strategic partnerships with other local businesses can both enhance the value of marketing opportunities and enrich customer experience.

Joining forces with other businesses helps allow owners to pool resources and create new ways to attract and delight customers. There are a host of potential benefits of small business collaboration–not just for each of the businesses involved, but also for the local community. 

Here are six small business partnership examples to inspire you.

1. Share your space

Collaborating with businesses that offer complementary goods and services allows you to combine–and grow–your common base of customers. People who buy clothing from a local retailer are also likely to be interested in accessories from a neighboring jewelry store, for example. Linking your footprint to other businesses by offering or renting out space for a partner’s pop-up table in your space or sharing a combined retail space could provide a more complete customer experience and could even reduce overhead costs. 

2. Combine marketing and ad campaigns

You don’t have to share physical space with a related retailer to pool your resources. Consider marketing collaboration–like a joint photo shoot that features both of your products or services to reduce the cost of producing individual marketing assets. Or, consider sharing the cost of advertising space in local media with neighboring businesses. A shared ad campaign could draw more customers to both businesses–and that could boost sales.

READ: 8 stellar marketing and advertising examples to inspire you

3. Co-host local events 

Collaborating on events like wine tastings in a wine shop that features bites from a local restaurant, for instance, can create lots of buzz and excitement for businesses and their customers. The more a cross-promotion feels like an event or an experience for customers, the more likely it is that customers develop an affinity with those brands. Ideas are just about endless, but could include offering a special tasting event, with partnerships between local cafes, bakeries, restaurants, or ice cream shops, or hosting a large-scale block party-type event. The more foot traffic that comes through a retail district that offers exciting partnerships, the better off all involved businesses will be.

READ: Event marketing strategies for your small business

4. Launch cross-promotional offers

Cross-promotions, like free giveaways or discount offers for customers who make purchases from other businesses, can be a great way to build brand recognition and can become a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. For example, a toy store might partner with a children’s clothing store or other child-centric retailers, in order to reach more customers. A marketing campaign that connects businesses who have similar target customers can be an invaluable way to expand the customer base for each business involved–and creates a direct line of communication to new customers that’s tough to replicate.

5. Collaborate on new products 

Partnering with other businesses can go beyond pop-ups or promotional offers. Consider how you might combine resources with other businesses to create high-value and attractive new products. A brewery or coffee seller might partner with local food retailers or restaurants to create flavored snacks or desserts, for example. Creative small business partnerships can lead to product innovation and leverage customer affinity for one brand into affection for other localbusinesses. 

6. Foster goodwill and idea sharing with local businesses

There is a lot to be said for bonhomie among local business owners–and it can pay off in lots of ways. Word of mouth from other business owners could drive their loyal customers to trust their recommendation and support your business. What’s more, listening and learning from other business owners about their success strategies–and vetting ideas for new products or services with them–can lead to a productive cross-pollination of ideas.

To get started, identify local businesses that offer complementary goods and services, then come up with a few ideas for ways you might collaborate to cross-promote and enhance each other. 

Now, here are four more business collaboration ideas by industry to help you think specifically about how to partner with other small businesses in your industry.

7. Restaurants and food retailers

Small business partnerships between restaurants and almost any sort of food and beverage retailers are a natural fit–so are collaborations between food trucks and businesses with outdoor space. Many other types of businesses may welcome partnerships with restaurants and food retailers–perhaps local office complexes, shopping centers, or even schools. So, consider what businesses in your area might share your customer base and could be interested in a food and beverage event or partnership.

8. Clothing and accessories

If you own a local boutique, you may consider other local shops direct competitors. But, it may be that the niches each of you serve could be complementary not competitive. Take, for example, a local boutique. Maybe it serves up clothing for women and you focus on denim. Consider how your offerings complement that business. Identifying retailers who serve similar customers in different ways or from different angles can help you make the case to other business owners how together you might join forces to give customers more of what they want–and boost profits for both businesses.

9. Home goods and services

Many home goods stores and home services businesses tend to be specialized–think furniture retailers, home furnishing stores, framing shops, flooring warehouses, plumbing supplies, and more. Ultimately, they all serve a common goal of making a house a functional home. If your business falls into the home goods and services category, collaborating with related businesses could help you get your business in front of more customers who already have their attention focused on the kinds of products and services you offer.

10. Beauty and personal care 

Many personal care services compliment each other and already draw from an overlapping customer base. Consider hair and nail salons, spas and aestheticians, barbershops and wellness coaching, for instance. Targeted promotions, like discounts offered with purchases at collaborating businesses, are likely to pay off by reaching even more people who are already focused on self-care. 

With some creativity, relationship building, and a commitment to customer engagement, you could find collaborating with other small businesses is just the ticket you need to help boost sales and expand your business into new markets. And, with a Clover POS system, you’ll be well positioned to handle the growth, manage day-to-day operations, and keep your business humming.

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