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Although competition plays a role in challenging ourselves to improve, cooperation is key to progress in a major way. By working together, people and companies are finding amazing ways to contribute value to each other and our organizations. While working on my MBA I was introduced to Elisabet Sahtouris, an evolutionary biologist giving us a lecture on how we can learn from nature to improve business & society. Over the past while I've noticed a few things that merge together in this space.

Co-Marketing - got clients? so do we!

This past week Saul Good launched a co-marketing campaign with Frogfile Office Essentials, a local green office supply company here in the Strathcona Green Zone. It's a refer a business program giving a Saul Good gift box to every client that refers a new business account at Frogfile. With the newsletter announcement this morning I quickly landed a new client and seeing it emerge on twitter to boot. The web 2.0, digital space and social networking have opened up great opportunities for co-marketing, helping consumers and companies connect with each other based on common interests, markets, and expertise. When two companies offer various value propositions an opportunity emerges to share sales leads as everyone is helping each other to improve their businesses.

Co-Location - it's easier to get help than be on your own

After Sustainability 1.0, a green business expo hosted by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA), Toby Barazzuol and I really started talking about our vision for a sustainable business community in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Quickly, various emerging opportunities started to present themselves as Toby's business, Eclipse Awards International, and mine, Saul Good Gift Co., found ways to work together to innovate and do business together. We collaborated with the SBIA and others on Sustainability 2.0, a more progressive expo focused on collaboration as key to sustainable community economic development (For more info on this please read a great article by Emily Jubenvill). One partnership that developed was in the Green Awards space, as we realized that both of our clients would benefit and see value in high quality, locally produced, recognition awards made from recycled, reclaimed and socially responsible labour. On January 1st of this year Saul Good moved into share the office and warehouse space at Eclipse. Having now been in here for 5 months, besides enjoying working in a beautifully designed green renovated building, we've found ways to help each other which include sharing production staff and shipping/receiving logistics, sharing sales leads and clients, collaborating on the development of new business opportunities through creativity and brainstorming sessions, and the development of shared PR contacts interested in the innovative business development happening in Strathcona. This is only the beginning. Co-location has really helped us to learn more about each other and our businesses to find ways we can help each other, after all, it's easier to get help then to be on your own.

Creating value from waste saves cash

For years it's been my passion to be involved with businesses that take useless waste products and turn them into objects of beauty and value. This is the field of industrial ecology, where no energy or resources are wasted but utilized through the development of partnerships where companies use each other's by-products (water, heat, materials) or share resources (buildings, services, employees). Just last week the SBIA hosted a waste exchange workshop that brought neighbourhood businesses together to learn about such opportunities and network in this space. I found value in the workshop as I connected with new people at Strathcona area businesses and with a tour tomorrow at Sunrise Soya I'll see how it all develops. It's amazing to see other businesses interested in cooperation for the development of a sustainable business community and even more thrilling to hear about new companies locating here for this strategic reason.

All business is about relationships, I'm sticking with that, and it's definitely all good to look and develop cooperative models for working together as businesses. It's what we need to do to evolve given the economic and environmental terms of our day. It's also our job.