Volume 1 Issue 8
The Trust Factor + Creative Innovation = Successful Collaborations
By Lourdes Cortez
The most cost effective way to grow your business, and increase your customer base and purchasing power is to form business alliances. Small business collaborations can be the altruistic recipe that makes good business sense and yields profits. Brand giants like MetLife, Simon & Schuster, Abercrombie & Fitch and Colgate-Palmolive suggests that. The successes of these longtime business entities were initially gleamed from the ideas of individuals wanting to produce a reputable product and making that product memorable and easily recognizable. These businesses also recognized their own weaknesses and need for mutually beneficial partnerships.
Therefore, one of the most important factors in forming a successful business alliance is to want the same basic outcome as your potential partner. How you choose to arrive at that outcome could be totally different, but is almost always mutually beneficial. However, that’s when the second important factor emerges – trust. When you can recognize in your business partner, or business collaboration, their strengths and how that balances out your weaknesses, you then learn to trust one another’s opinion, with mutual respect, in making strategic business decisions.
As a matter of fact, Warren Buffet, revered for his business acumen and wealth, had this to say about the trust factor in a Huffington Post article. “That comfort comes from a complete lack of envy in a partnership. Partners must value trust, they must discover how to keep their ego in check, and they must put a premium on not just brains, but human decency.”
I say, well said Mr. Buffet! That old adage, two heads are better than one, rings true here.
Clearly, when creative innovation is factored into the collaboration mix, the leap from small business to big business has great potential.
Locally, such is the case of Curl Prep Natural Hair Solutions. This small home-based business located in East Orange, New Jersey, specializing in a line of natural hair care products, partnered with Whole Foods Market and now the line is sold in select stores throughout the state.
Curl Prep’s founder, Candace Kelley, recognized how Whole Foods prides itself in promoting natural and organic products and supporting local entrepreneurs. This example shows us that no matter how small your business, recognizing mutually beneficial partnership opportunities are key functions of any good entrepreneur.
Also, putting a new spin on competition and partnership is Bob Mudge, whose article in Leadership Now, takes small business partnering to another level. Mudge suggests, “cooperating with your competitors might have been counterintuitive years ago, but today it’s a necessity for a successful business.” Meaning sometimes its takes a few businesses to penetrate a market and become successful or partnering your small business with a larger competitor could launch you into the next level.
With that said, it is important to understand that a successful business partnership is like a successful marriage, it takes hard work, trust and creative innovation. Take the time to look at your weaknesses and find ways to partner with those who can benefit your business.
Lourdes Cortez, President/CEO of North Jersey Federal Credit Union, hails from Paterson. In 1984, she began her career at North Jersey Federal and served in several roles. In 2004, she was promoted to VP of Operations and soon thereafter became Senior VP and in 2005 was named President and CEO.
In February 2014, Cortez was appointed to the Board of Trustees of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. She also serves on the boards of the Workforce Investment Board of Passaic County, and Visions Academy Charter School in Newark, and as President of the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic. Cortez is the chairperson for the North Jersey Federal Credit Union Foundation and assistant treasurer for Executive Women of NJ. She has volunteered for numerous organizations including La Casa De Don Pedro, the March of Dimes, Eva’s Village in Paterson and the American Cancer Society.
As the first Latina CEO of a credit union in New Jersey, Cortez has been honored by NJ Biz magazine, which named her one of the “Best 50 Women in Business” in New Jersey. Other awards include: the North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2010 Star Award in Business, the 2010 Salute to the Policy Makers Award from Executive Women of NJ, and the 2012 Women of Achievement Award from the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.