Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Talking Business: 'Collaboration is the new face of competition'

Cecile Reinaud is founder of maternitywear etailer Séraphine.

Cecile Reinaud.jpg

Cecile Reinaud

We live in a rapidly changing world where information is king, shoppers are savvier than ever and openness is vital to ensuring growth. As a result, businesses must share knowledge, even with competitors.

Running a business can be lonely, particularly in ecommerce, which is driven by changing consumer sentiment, fast-moving technology and growing security concerns. The more information you have, the more your service and your business can improve.

Through collaborative, peer-to-peer learning, I have benefitted from the shared experiences of many business owners, both within the digital retail industry and elsewhere.

In the early days of my business, I established a valuable relationship with Simon Hill-Norton, co-founder of women’s sportswear label Sweaty Betty. He was once my mentor, but now we have a more collaborative relationship based on sharing expertise, knowledge and insights. We exchange ideas, whether that is on market changes and strategic decisions or specific challenges on service providers, technology or HR.

I am also a member of the Supper Club, a membership organisation made up of business owners and chief executives. When I was faced with major HR decisions for my business, considering whether part-time or outsourced people would be more appropriate, I was able to call on another Supper Club member, Derek Bishop, who runs an advisory firm called Culture Consultancy, for advice.

Everyone I have met in the group so far is interested in sharing the experiences and challenges they are facing with their businesses. It has allowed me to reconsider my tactics, putting my own challenges into a wider context.

This sharing did not just happen, however. I had to make a concerted effort to take time away from the day-to-day running of my business. Many small business owners are doing the same: sharing insights and experience through formal peer-learning arrangements or by forging strong relationships with other business owners. In today’s world you won’t keep up as a lone ranger, so start sharing.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.