Small business collaboration is no brainer for us. Why would other like minded owners not desire to work together for a common goal? Absolute Bearing has been in business for one year this past week. We had a great Groton City Farmers market and Saturday mornings at Waterford Farmers market have been just as busy. Customers are getting used to the being out of their homes and coming to see us for coffee and conversation. Collaboration is the key to our and other businesses success.
The definition of collaboration, according to the Oxford dictionary, is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. But why is this important? One reason is cross pollination of customers and ideas. Absolute Bearing is collaborating with Mystic River Chocolate Cafe on new chocolate coffee product and our excellent organic specialty coffee.
William Gash is the owner, passionate chocolate maker, and Navy veteran. His wife Casey is a baker, graphic art designer, and marketer. She invited me in to their store on one of their days off to give me some valuable business advice from mistakes they had made, but also from their success. This couples drive, determination, and positive energy is infectious. Together we are better because of our relationship to each other, our businesses, and making our community a much better place for everyone to enjoy.
A week ago, I was roasting coffee for the week when a customer came to The Coffee Lab because he was driving around and smelled roasting coffee. His name is Dr. Robert Otterstatter and he is the Chief Operating Officer of Octane Social House in Auburn,New York. He was vacationing for a couple of days with his family and enjoys finding local roasters, purchasing coffee, and then brining it back to his customers. I was in the middle of a roast as he looked over our wholesale page and placed an order. I asked him if he wanted to go to Mystic River Chocolate Cafe, get some outstanding local chocolate, and a coffee to go. He did just that and returned a half hour later giving me more than enough time to package up 20 pounds of our coffee. He bought a bunch of chocolate for his wife and kids and a cold coffee for himself. He asked about a local fish restaurant, so we sent him to the Fisherman at Groton Long Point. Bonus, the kids needed to burn some energy off before they drove home that night. Esker Point beach is across the street with a great view for parents to relax while the kids run around the beach. This is collaboration at it's best, where everyone is in a win-win situation.
The Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce has 5 distinct ideas for growing small business. The 5 ideas are cross-promote on social media, run giveaways on social media, cross-promote in other ways, guest post on other websites or blogs, and run an event together.
A year ago we contacted Beer'd brewing to see what we could do together. We brought samples of our coffee and they gave us their Midnight Oil to taste. It is delicious by the way, easy to drink, and was difficult to find in the stores due to its popularity. This is from Beer'd's web page, "Full of roast, caramel, chocolate and coffee flavors. A creamy mouth feel with a dry finish." It is all of that and a bag of chips. We worked with them using our Vulcan Death Watch coffee blend. The end result is Beer'd will be using VDW in a brown ale in the fall. We are excited for this opportunity to work with a popular local brewery with a company that has similar values to local businesses.
Another way small businesses can aid each other is through promoting each other at farmers markets. We barter with each other to try their products which in turn is a great way to advertise to our customers while they are at our booth. We trade nitro cold brew for food from Short Rib Cafe, baked goods from Standish Brook Farm, or donate our used coffee grounds to the farmers that support the market. We send our customers to their booths because their products are so delicious. The farmers markets have some of the best artisan goods out their with people who work very hard to hone their skills at outstanding customer service while cooking food, grinding coffee, or just having a meaningful conversation. Even if you do not like coffee just stop by our booth and say hello. We may just direct you to a great lunch, outstanding baked goods, or an organic lavender oil that you were looking to purchase.
According to an article on the website Chron, "A small business is defined as a business (corporation, limited liability company or proprietorship) with 500 employees or less. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses represent 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses." But, small business sometimes hides behind a corporation and these very large companies were the ones that got the majority of the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) money during COVID. Our small businesses could not produce enough losses or enough lawyers to file the paperwork fast enough. It does not seem fair to me since according to that website, small business makes up almost all the businesses out in the market. How can you level the playing field for us? Shop local as much as you can or able. I get it, Amazon is just one click away and we shop there for many of our needs. But when small businesses collaborate together, a rising tide lifts all boats. See you soon.