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Partner up: the power of collaboration

New Zealand may not be a small country in size - it is as big as Italy with an almost similar shape - but it only has 4 million inhabitants of which 1 million are living on the South Island. The pond I am fishing in regarding potential clients is not that big.

Therefore setting up a new Pilates business in this part of the country takes time and effort. With the effort part I am pretty bang on but with time - or better patience - I am not so good. Patience is definitely not one of my strengths. 'Why is it not happening and why not now?' are two of my favourite questions.

Fluid Market

What have I discovered so far ever since I arrived in beautiful Arrowtown almost four months ago? The demographics seem ideal in this area. Clients have the time and money to do Pilates, they are interested in improving their posture and strengthening their bodies and they like my teaching. But, it is also a very fluid market whereby clients have a busy lifestyle and travel a lot. There is less commitment and Pilates will only happen in between the many holidays. Not an ideal way to build a business let alone have a viable one.

So a little push from a friend does help. Someone who recommends you on her social media, drops your name at a coffee club meeting or invites you to her house for a one-off session with her peers. Obviously I am very grateful for that and I see things grow. Being in such a small community and fishing in a rather small pond of potential clients made me realise all too well to seek partnerships instead of doing everything on my own.

Five reasons to collaborate

Whilst I was reading up on collaboration - or partnership - I came across an interesting article by Inc. describing five reasons why this is a good thing. Below is an adapted version:

  1. Self-awareness. Collaborating challenges you to articulate and distill what we are great at, and what we do poorly. That honesty about our strengths and weaknesses can force us to ask for help and be brazen about how we can help others.

  2. Scale. 'Two heads are better than one' is the old adage. Sharing and leveraging resources means we can reach new markets and re-energise the connection we have with existing customers. It also makes us understand that we are part of a greater whole.

  3. Creative abrasion. Wearing down through fiction. We may associate friction with something negative but with friction also comes growth and energy. Working with people who are different than us generates new energy.

  4. Take the long view. Sometimes collaboration doesn't work but it shouldn't stop us from trying again with someone else. While the initial project may not do well, the partnership may still be salvageable.

  5. Learn and learn some more. Collaboration propels us to become a learning organisation. Each time we collaborate with others we optimise ourselves to go beyond our comfort zone.

Put into practise

Collaboration isn't necessarily easy but it can get a business like mine to a much more interesting position to innovate. So it may not come as a surprise that I partnered up with various companies in the area. I am already teaching classes at Millbrook Resort, was asked by my fellow Pilates studio owner Beth of MyPilates Time to replace her whilst she is enjoying her holidays, and very recently I agreed to start doing Pilates sessions at Nadi Yoga which is the biggest Yoga studios in the Queenstown area.

Partnerships are based on trust, hear-say, a bit of luck luck and coincidence but most of all putting yourself out there. I wonder who will be my next partner to collaborate with.


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Marco Dingemans is a qualified Classical Pilates mat instructor

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