A couple of years ago I attended a class with my daughter on how to find the perfect college. As a high school student faced with narrowing down a pool of thousands of colleges into 5 to 10 that peaked her interest, the entire concept was terrifying at best. Where do you begin? Or more importantly, how do you begin?

In our case we chose to start with the most obvious – demographics. That eliminated many right off the top. But that still left hundreds of schools that were a possibility in some aspect.

So we entered the class “How To Choose The Perfect School For You” with high expectations. Could this woman possibly give us the key to the information we really wanted to know? Could she make the entire process easy for us?

Sadly, the answer was no. (I’m sure you recognized that right away.) Nothing in life is ever that easy. For every single person out there, the variables are different. I can give you sound advice, tell you the exact steps I took, and show you the results I achieved. But because we are different people with different backgrounds, our outcomes will never be the same.

That’s just the facts of life.

But this presenter did give us one piece of information that we took to heart, and it helped us immensely as we made our way down the path to making the final choice.

Colleges today are divided into two realms.  Half are for collaborators and half are for competitors. Find out what is most appealing to you and make sure you apply to the right school for you.

And sure enough she was right. In fact most schools are so in tuned to this line of thinking, they list it on their mission statements, on their websites, and will even use those very words when you take the college tours.

We quickly honed in on my daughters strengths – she’s a collaborator. When we visited a school that focused in on collaboration, she left with a sense of peace. When we visited a school focused in on competition, she left stressed and in need of some down time.

Cross the competitive schools off the list. Move the collaborative schools to the top and choose from there. And of course as you can imagine, she selected a school perfect for her with a deep sense of collaboration. And even though she’s now having some of the normal freshman struggles, she for the most part has found a place she belongs.

The Female Approach To Business

This entire process inspired me to say the least. Two years after we sat through that class, and its still one of the most important lessons I learned throughout the entire process.

Why didn’t they teach us that concept when we had kids and needed to select preschools, elementary school and high schools for them? Why didn’t we know anything about this process back then?

That would have definitely changed a lot of choices we made over the years.

It also made me think of the typical playing field for women in business.

Business for the most part has and always will be a competitive marketplace. You “fight” for a job. You “fight” for a raise. You “fight” for a promotion.” You “fight” for advancements. And so on.

And if you are brave enough to ever think about going into business for yourself, the “fighting” starts all over again on a whole different level.

You “compete” for clients. You “compete” for funding opportunities. You “compete” for marketing exposure. You “compete” for sales. Everything about the entrepreneurial spirit comes down to “fighting” for it and “competing” for it.

Its one big competition.The Competitors and The Collaborators

Yet for a lot of us females (and yes, some men too) competition is intimidating. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary.

Do you really want to leave all of your safety behind you and enter a world where it’s nothing but competition for everything?

Collaboration means safety. It means working together towards one common goal. It means building off each other’s successes and utilizing other people’s knowledge to help you get to the next level. It’s learning from someone else’s successes and failures and applying it to your own real life situations.

Collaborate on your big idea

Sounds great, right? But what does it really mean? You’re still in the same position and don’t know where to turn next. How do you start building from a collaborative mode instead of a competitive mode?

1. Look for ways to grow together

You’re not alone in the sea of businesses. In fact, there is no such thing as competition. Competition is actually a good thing – if people understand what you do and what you sell, you have less need to explain it before people “get it”. While there will always be the business owners that fight for every last client and dollar they can get, that’s not the way to move forward in today’s environment. Instead, look for businesses that work with the same type of clientele and look for ways to work together. How can you combine what you do into dynamic presentations that will put your clients even more at ease?

2. You can make money in a variety of ways

The wonderful thing about operating your Big Idea from a blog format is you have the opportunity to talk about and “sell” just about anything. Even things you haven’t created yet are closely related to what you have to offer. Can you offer a friends’ product and make a small commission from it? This works well when you’re selling things that work together:  you need to purchase your cookbook with the right recipe, and the special pan for cooking it all together happens to be developed by a friend of yours. In many ways this comes later in your business development. Its hard to put a lot of pieces together upfront when you’re still developing your own initial concept. Just keep an open mind, knowing this will come together down the road.

3. Invest in your own growth early on

Many people are willing to share and give you a clearer path to success. Coaches are the best thing that can happen to your business and they should always be your number one way of investing in your future. While you shouldn’t jump at every coach that comes your way, look for coaches that provide you with the perfect opportunity when you need it. If you want a coach that provides you with expertise in growing an online business, make sure they have that in their background. If you want a coach that has expertise in start up and growth techniques, make sure they have that experience. You don’t have to jump at a coach the moment you find one; monitor their content for a while to determine if they are right for you. You’ll know when the right moment is.

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