In business, 2010 has been a tough year for many, it’s been a real big clear out and only the strong companies are pulling through. But why is it they’re stronger than others, what is it that makes a strong company? It’s not because they started in business first, nor because they have the best name, or dare I say it, they’re luckier. No it’s because they work on their business. Recently, I’ve been running an interesting exercise whilst meeting business people, I’ve been asking them how they are finding business right now. The common thread appears to be that the ones that are complaining, cutting back on marketing and not embracing social media are the ones that are most vocal about how bad the economy is.

On the flip side, the ones that are more buoyant and upbeat are doing things a little differently. Dig deeper and you find that they are using their marketing channels more as well as speaking and networking more often. They are being clear about their proposition and market, whilst combining their skills with other organisations. Collaboration seems to be an even more important route to market than it has for a long time. The fact that other companies will right now be speaking or dealing with your target market means that with a combined approach you stand an even better chance of winning the business. For instance, estate agents will be speaking with people that want to buy or sell houses. If your business also deals in some way with people moving houses, then make sure part of your marketing activity is to form strong reliable alliances with like-minded companies, who are dealing with your target market.

We recently experienced how beneficial collaboration can be. We worked with a very similar company to ourselves on a project that they found and managed, however we both have slightly different strengths which meant that we could combine those strengths to create a much better project that was cost-effective for all.

On a final note, facing 2011 without a plan will make trading even more difficult - consider as many routes to market as you can and test each one of them closely. Too many people assume that they know the right way. Get over it, test the market clearly and shape your business to the market’s demands.