How To Grow Your Small Business by Cooperating Instead of Competing | The Write Idea

How To Grow Your Small Business by Cooperating Instead of Competing

By Renae Gregoire

My oldest son introduced our family to a new card game.

Odds are you don’t know about this card game. It’s not for sale at Walmart or at your local toy store.

And the reason I’m sharing this with you is that playing it just once changed my entire worldview — my worldview as a human being and as a business owner.

The game is called Hanabi.

Hanabi is supposed to be about creating a fireworks show, but I hardly paid attention to that. I was enthralled by the way we were playing the game. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

On my turn, instead of making moves that would elevate my position, I had to make moves that elevated the positions of the players coming after me.

I learned that when playing Hanabi, the outcome isn’t about me, it’s about us. It’s about cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.

All those highfalutin concepts I’ve been hearing about since forever — they were all made real for me in an instant and while playing a card game.

Here’s the official blurb about Hanabi, emphases my own:

Players work cooperatively in this clever deduction card game with an electrifying twist!

Each player is dealt a hand of 5 cards, but the catch is that you can see everyone’s cards except your own [!!!].

Working together, you must share (and remember!) vital information to play cards in the proper launch sequence. Light them all to create a dazzling display and avoid a fizzling fiasco!

In other words …

You can’t see your own cards, but everyone else can. The cards you can see are everyone else’s.

The object is to look at other players’ cards and try to figure out what they need so that the whole team can complete the common goal of launching a fireworks display.

If we don’t work together then fireworks explode in our faces.

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

Ouch.

The more we played Hanabi, the more I liked it.

I kept thinking about the entrepreneurial journey and how Hanabi represented exactly how I approach my work in the world.

Instead of being a lone-wolf writer — sitting in my isolated office, creating my products, building my list, and serving my clients — I work cooperatively with other people whose goals match mine. To help our mutual clients create better online experiences that lead more people to say yes to their offers.

As I considered these things, I suddenly realized that Hanabi is JVology in a card deck.

JVology, the brainchild of bestselling author Jay Fiset, is all about forming joint venture partnerships that help partners — and the whole world—to win, win, win.

The mantra of joint ventures, the JVology way, is to give first.

If I want people to partner with me, I must first give value to them without expecting anything in return.

If people want to partner with me, they must first give value to me, again, without expecting anything in return.

Through JVology, Jay hosts giveaways that bring together entrepreneurs from different industries — from health and wellness to content creation, and from parenting to bots.

Each entrepreneur brings special gifts to benefit their mutual audiences, all in the spirit of helping those audiences achieve the personal, professional, or business growth they want.

During the last giveaway, I interviewed and was also interviewed by a handful of participating gift-givers, several of whom want to collaborate with me on various projects.

Collaborate!

Cooperate!

Hanabi!

I look forward to cooperating and collaborating, each of us growing our respective businesses in the service of ourselves and, more importantly, in the service of others.

The River of Business: How To Think of Joint Venture Partnerships

To help people better understand the JVology mindset, Jay paints a great picture.

He says to picture a fast-flowing river. You sit on the bank at the center point of the river.

Photo by Steve Carter on Unsplash

Maybe you’re fishing, maybe you’re sunning, or maybe you’re playing frisbee with Fido.

Either way, potential clients are flowing past you.

The point is that they’re flowing, they’re moving.

People don’t arrive at your point, where your business is, out of the blue. Before they need what you offer, they’ve likely needed other businesses, other products, other services — things offered by others who sit upstream from you.

In my case, I sell writing, editing, and content marketing services. But clients aren’t coming to me the moment they decide to start a business or launch a new product or line of business. They need the help of other professionals first.

So I shout upstream:

Hey you! Web developers, web designers, business plan writers, attorneys, accountants, business coaches, summit and course creators! Anyone who sits upstream along the river where our mutual clients flow!

Chances are your clients will need what I offer — the practiced eyes and ears of a content professional who can experience their offerings as prospects and customers will, as a first reader, first player, first buyer.

I have to let those upstream entrepreneurs know that I can serve their clients once they’re back in the river and on their way to success.

And, after I serve those clients, they head back into the river again.

Photo by Jon Del Rivero on Unsplash

This time, I shout downstream:

Hey you! Business consultants, publicity and visibility pros, virtual COOs, business growth coaches, ad experts!

Anyone who lies downstream from me in the river where clients flow! My clients have websites, content, summits, courses. And now they need you to get the word out!

The same is true in Hanabi.

Players must, as a team, create a specific sequence that sets the fireworks show to flying.

We, as entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers, are the players. We must, as a team, create a specific sequence that sets our fireworks — our clients— to flying!

This moment of inspiration while playing Hanabi was so profound that as my family and I played, and as this realization settled deeper into my soul, I blurted to them — and am now blurting to you — that the whole world needs Hanabi!

By the way, my son tells me that the word Hanabi means “game” in Japanese.

If I were to define Hanabi, instead of game, it would mean give first.

Photo by Craig Birrell on Unsplash

And it might just be uttered like a prayer.

Hanabi.

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About the Author

Hi! I'm Renae Gregoire, a digital conversion expert improving the performance of digital marketing content, including websites, landing pages, sales pages, online courses, blogs, and email sequences. If you're a coach, consultant, or other expert having trouble getting people to click, sign up, subscribe, or buy, I can help. My work typically involves a blend of strategy, design guidance, and wordsmithing, with a heavy focus on how your materials look, sound, feel, and function—all from your reader's perspective. Contact me to see how I might be able to help improve your conversions.