The guide to team collaboration for small businesses.

Titilola Shittu
April 8, 2024

For some small businesses, founders often wear multiple hats and hustle harder than anyone else.  This relentless drive can fuel an "every hero needs a cape" mentality, where the myth of the lone wolf entrepreneur prevails. But here's the truth: small business success hinges on something far more powerful than a single superstar - effective team collaboration.

Yes, you read that right. 

Collaboration is what propels small businesses to startups, and then to industry leaders.  This guide will help you achieve the power of successful collaboration - how to cultivate a collaborative team environment where your entire team feels valued, empowered, and motivated to bring their A-game every single day. 

What does good team collaboration look like?

Good team collaboration occurs when team members work together seamlessly to achieve a common goal. The entire team is clear about the project's objectives and what success looks like - this creates a sense of unity and direction.

Team members understand their responsibilities and how their work contributes to the bigger picture. It helps avoid confusion and duplication of effort. There's a free flow of information, ideas, and concerns. Members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and asking questions. Active listening and respectful communication are key. 

Everyone's ideas are appreciated, regardless of seniority. This enables creativity and innovation as the team benefits from various perspectives. Disagreements are seen as opportunities to improve, not personal attacks. 

Having the appropriate tools and multiple platforms for communication, project management, and file sharing can also significantly improve how workers collaborate in teams. 

What are the three types of collaboration skills?

  1. Communication.

Clear communication ensures everyone has the same understanding of the project goals, roles, and expectations. Collaborative teams have reduced confusion, and wasted efforts, and everyone is working towards the same vision 

Good communication involves not just speaking but also actively listening to others. Team members understand different viewpoints, provide constructive feedback, and build upon each other's ideas. When members communicate openly and honestly, trust develops. This creates a positive and supportive work environment with better team collaboration.

Inevitably, disagreements arise in collaborative teams. Strong communication skills allow teams to discuss problems constructively, find common ground, and arrive at solutions that work for everyone.

  1. Emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is a key ingredient in successful team collaboration because it influences how we perceive, understand, and manage emotions in ourselves and others. People with high emotional intelligence can understand and share the feelings of others. It builds a sense of trust and psychological safety, where collaborative team members feel comfortable expressing themselves and taking risks without fear of judgment.

Team leaders with high emotional intelligence can motivate and inspire their entire team. They recognize and celebrate individual contributions, enabling a positive and collaborative work environment where everyone feels valued.

It’s safe to say that emotional intelligence lays the foundation for open communication, effective conflict resolution, and a collaborative spirit that drives team success.

  1. Time management.

Time management ensures teams function smoothly, meet deadlines, and achieve their goals efficiently. When individual team members manage their time well, they can stay focused on their tasks and avoid wasting time on distractions. This leads to a significant boost in overall team performance, allowing them to accomplish more in a shorter timeframe.

Poor time management can lead to stress and frustration, especially when deadlines loom. Team members feel more in control and experience less stress by managing tasks effectively. Time management skills create a more positive and collaborative work environment, reducing the potential for conflict. When done right, workplace collaboration can have a positive impact on your team and organization. 

Good team collaboration encourages better problem-solving.

Good team collaboration creates a breeding ground for effective problem-solving. A collaborative team with a variety of perspectives and experiences have a wider range of ideas and approaches to tackle a problem.  This can spark creative solutions that might not have been considered by a single person.

Jad Adraos, an account executive at Equinix says “If individuals keep working on the solution separately, the 'problem' will remain in the 'problem' stage.”

Through brainstorming and discussion, members can build upon each other's ideas.  One person's suggestion can spark another's, leading to a more refined and effective solution than any initial concept  When a team works together to solve a problem, they share ownership of the solution.

Let’s say a marketing team is facing a challenge.  Sales of one of their company's products have been declining.  An individual marketer might brainstorm some ideas to address this, such as a new marketing campaign or a discount promotion.

Now imagine a collaborative team. A project manager might hold a meeting where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas.  The product designer might suggest a redesign of the product landing page to make it more optimised for conversion.  The social media manager could propose a more engaging social media campaign to generate interest.

Through brainstorming sessions and building on each other's ideas, the team could decide to implement a combination of these approaches. They could refresh the landing page, and develop a social media campaign around the new look.

This type of collaborative team leverages the strengths of each team member. The product designer brings their user experience expertise, the social media manager contributes their understanding of marketing, and perhaps someone else might suggest ways to improve the product itself based on customer feedback.

The team has a rich pool of new ideas to draw from and can develop a more comprehensive strategy to address the declining sales, by working together This collaborative problem-solving is more likely to lead to successful teamwork than any individual working in isolation.

What is team collaboration in the workplace?

Team collaboration in a digital workplace is the process where a group of people with complementary skills work together towards a shared goal. It's more than just people working in the same place or on the same project. Workplace collaboration takes teamwork to the next level.

86% of employees cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. Teamwork involves a joint effort that leverages everyone's strengths to achieve better results than what individuals could achieve on their own. If you're looking to improve collaboration on your team, here are some things you should know

A. Fosters honest and open communication.

Open communication ensures everyone has the same understanding of goals, reasonable expectations, and project details. It reduces confusion, and wasted efforts, and ensures everyone is working towards the same vision.

When a collaborative team share information freely, they have access to a wider range of perspectives. This leads to more informed decisions and avoids situations where crucial details are overlooked. It’s an avenue for constructive debate and the resolution of potential issues before they escalate.

Team members who feel comfortable sharing new ideas and concerns without fear of judgment are more likely to take risks, fix a creative problem, and support each other. Honest and open communication creates a transparent and supportive environment where team members feel empowered to contribute their best. This team dynamics in turn fuels collaboration, innovation, and ultimately, the team's success.

B. Creates a stronger sense of employee loyalty to your company.

Employees who work effectively together towards a shared goal, feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves. This sense of belonging and purpose builds a stronger connection to the company’s mission.

Through collaboration, employees see how their contributions fit into the larger picture and the impact they have on the team's success. This recognition builds productive teams, where members feel valued and appreciated, increasing their loyalty. Team members learn to rely on each other, celebrate successes together, and offer help during challenges. It creates a positive and supportive work environment that employees are more likely to be loyal to.

Collaboration allows other team members to learn from each other's strengths and experiences. They can share knowledge, overcome challenges together, and develop new skills. This type of growth and development contributes to a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel more confident and invested in their roles.

C. Define and communicate your team's goals.

Collaboration brings together a wider range of ideas and experiences. The team can arrive at a more comprehensive and well-rounded set of goals that considers various factors and potential challenges, by discussing various viewpoints.

Through collaboration, a team defining their quarterly goals may not just set a target number for sales but also discuss strategies for reaching that target.  This could involve brainstorming new marketing campaigns, identifying customer segments to focus on, or exploring ways to improve customer service. The team defines not just the "what" (sales target) but also the "how" (strategies to achieve it), by working together.

D. Lead by example.

Leading by example plays a crucial role in fostering a collaborative environment within your team. A leader who actively collaborates sends a clear message that teamwork is valued and expected. This encourages team members to be open to working together, knowledge sharing, and supporting each other.  When a leader shares the workload and actively participates in problem-solving, it shows a commitment to shared goals and accountability. Here are some specific examples of how a leader can demonstrate collaboration in a team of different backgrounds:

  • Participating in brainstorming sessions and actively seeking input from team members.
  • Giving credit to members for their contributions and ideas.
  • Being open to feedback and willing to adapt their approach based on team input.
  • Resolving conflicts constructively and focusing on finding solutions that benefit the team.
  • Celebrating the team's successes together.

As a leader, you create a ripple effect that encourages successful team collaboration throughout the team by leading by example.

E. Team-building opportunities.

Team building opportunities are a powerful tool to improve collaboration within your team by specifically targeting several key areas. One such area includes team-building activities that involve fun and engaging exercises that take teams outside their comfort zones.  These shared experiences can help break down barriers, create a more relaxed atmosphere, and foster collaboration and stronger relationships between team members. Many team-building activities involve problem-solving challenges or discussions that require clear communication and active listening.  Through these exercises, team members can practice expressing their ideas effectively, listening to others with empathy, and working together to reach a common understanding.

Team building activities can provide valuable insights into individual strengths, weaknesses, and working styles.  This self-awareness and understanding of others' preferences can lead to more effective collaboration. Teams can learn to leverage each other's strengths and compensate for weaknesses by assigning tasks strategically. Juri Hurula, HR Director at Stora Enso says “It is important to also take into consideration the remote employees if people live further away in different cities or countries to ensure their involvement and engagement. One easy team-building killer is to invite  only part of the team.”

However, the effectiveness of team-building activities depends on thoughtful planning and execution.  Simply throwing a group of people together for a generic activity might not yield significant results.  It's important to choose activities that are aligned with your team's goals and challenges and facilitate discussions that encourage reflection and application of the learned skills back in the workplace.

10 Tips for building team collaboration.

These 10 tips can help enable team collaboration in an environment where teams can thrive and achieve success together.

  1. Set clear goals and expectations:  Ensure everyone on the team understands the overall goals, individual roles, and project expectations. This creates a shared vision and keeps everyone working towards the same objectives.
  2. Open communication: Encourage open and honest communication by creating a safe space for team members to streamline work, and express their ideas, concerns, and questions.
  3. Value diverse perspectives:  Recognize and appreciate the unique strengths and experiences that each team member brings to the table. Encourage diverse viewpoints when building collaborative teams.
  4. Practice active listening:  Don't just wait for your turn to speak. Pay close attention to what others are saying, ask clarifying questions, and acknowledge their contributions.
  5. Establish clear communication channels:  Decide on the most effective communication tools (email, project management software, instant messaging) for different situations and ensure everyone is aware of them.
  6. Utilize collaboration tools: Take advantage of technology that can facilitate teamwork, such as shared documents, online whiteboards, and project management tools. The right collaboration tools can help your team members feel less isolated and more part of the organization.
  7. Promote trust and respect:  Build trust by being reliable, following through on commitments, and acknowledging the contributions of others. Treat everyone with respect, value their opinions, build relationships and avoid micromanaging.
  8. Celebrate successes:  Recognize and celebrate both individual and team achievements. This reinforces a positive work environment, and behaviours, motivates team members, and strengthens team spirit.
  9. Invest in team building:  Organize team-building activities that encourage communication, problem-solving, and relationship-building outside of the typical work setting.
  10. Lead by example:  As a team leader, demonstrate collaborative behaviour yourself. Be open to feedback, actively participate in discussions, and show trust in your team's abilities.

These tips provide a roadmap for creating a collaborative work environment where everyone feels valued, empowered, and motivated to contribute their best.  It translates into a more effective, efficient, and successful team collaboration.

Team collaboration tools for small businesses.

The best online collaboration tools for your small business depend on your specific needs and budget. Consider factors like team size, project complexity, communication styles, and budget constraints when making your decision. It can be helpful to start with a free plan or trial to see if a tool fits your team's workflow before committing to a paid plan.

1. Simpu.

Simpu's website page

A unified communication platform for businesses, to give their customers a memorable experience. The platform offers omnichannel support to see all conversations at a glance. View messages from WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Live Chat, Gmail & more in one shared inbox.

Simpu enables seamless collaboration with team members using a shared inbox. You can assign, comment and manage conversations without any hassle. No more worries about the stress of missing important messages.

Its compatibility with your favourite business tools such as Hubspot, WooCommerce, Shopify, Mambu, and Zoom, makes it a popular choice for teams looking for an effective communication platform. A free trial is available for teams ready to simplify their lives.

2. ClickUp.

If you’re looking for a real-time collaboration tool that’ll take your team’s efforts to the next level, then it’s time to check out Clickup. It’s an all-in-one productivity platform designed to provide better solutions for all of every team’s needs.

ClickUp is loaded with hundreds of flexible features and powerful enough to bring all of your work together across apps. With ClickUp, you can easily structure and manage complex team projects down to the last subtask with its flexible hierarchy, you can customize and manage tasks to fit your team’s processes and projects and also assign tasks to multiple team members to increase visibility and collaborate on content

3. Google workspace.

Google Workspace represents a significant evolution in cloud-based office productivity and collaboration tools. It offers an integrated suite of apps designed to improve productivity and collaboration in various settings, from small businesses to large enterprises. 

Some of the core applications are Gmail (email services with custom domain options), Calendar (keep track of team meetings and events), Meet (video conferencing tool), Docs, Sheets, and Slides (real-time collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations) and Drive (cloud file storage solution).

4. Slack

A popular communication platform with features like instant messaging, file sharing, and integrations with other tools. Many small businesses can leverage the free plan that offers a good range of features for basic collaboration.

Slack brings internal and external teams together across locations, time zones and working styles, instead of confining work to the siloed communication of email. Over 2600 apps can be connected to Slack – whether it’s your calendar or the tools that you use every day.

  1. Dropbox
Dropbox website

Dropbox makes automatically gathering project feedback easier. Collaborate, share, and edit along with your colleagues in one centralized space.

Companies rely on Dropbox to work efficiently with teammates and clients, stay in sync on projects, and keep company data safe—all in one place.


Building a successful small business depends on effective teamwork.  This guide has unpacked everything you need to know to foster successful team collaboration within your team.  We explored the importance of shared goals, open communication, valuing diverse perspectives, and healthy conflict resolution.

Collaboration isn't a one-time fix; it's an ongoing process. Utilize the tips provided,  explore collaboration tools tailored for small businesses, and lead by example.  By prioritizing collaboration, you'll empower your team to achieve greater things together, propelling your small business towards success.

So, don't wait!  Start by streamlining your team collaboration with Simpu and incorporating a few of the practices that resonate most with your team.  Maybe it’s a shared inbox tool that can be extremely helpful when it comes to customer satisfaction and improving customer experience.

Every step you take towards fostering collaboration is a step towards building a dream team – a team that thrives on open communication embraces challenges with collective problem-solving, and propels your small business towards extraordinary success.  

Titilola Shittu

Content Writer
Titilola enjoys writing content that resonates with a target audience. With an interest in product marketing, she understands the importance of using data to provide actionable insights that help with informed decisions. You can find her listening to music or reading African literature when she's not doing anything marketing-related.

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