Here at Smarta we're big on collaboration. Our mantra is 'together businesses can achieve more than they can apart'.
It's something we actively encourage, and something we try our best to practice. Neither, though, are we shy to ask for help.
Like most of the online world trying to navigate north through Google's labyrinthine algorithms we've recently been trying to build our link equity by exchanging links, content and tools with other small business sites.
Tom from Smarta's been doing a great job and made us some valuable contacts with like-minded companies with similar readerships. Of course, he's had more than a few polite rejections as well - that's to be expected.
From: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
Date: 28 January 2010 09:49:02 GMT
To: "Tom Telford" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Smarta
Reply-To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sorry for not having got back to you sooner; bad manners on my part.
Several of us have now had a look at your website and although we would agree that it contains a lot of good content, we don't like its association with the Dragons Den or more to the point, some of its more publicity orientated characters like Doug Richard and his recent, off-beam nonsense.
It wouldn't be so bad if such opinions remained his own but when they are aped by potentially, the country's next prime minister and causing all involved to become little more than an ill-informed laughing stock, we need to draw the line.
We've been around for a long time as have the majority of our members and whereas we certainly aren't middle-of-the-road (we were the first and only UK business association to form a national credit union for its members, for example), we have seen it all before and quite frankly, doubt that your website will even be around in a couple of years' time.
Consequently, we don't think linking to you in preference to the thousands of other small business websites we are asked to link to each year, will be of any benefit to our members or visitors.
I'll happily give you a plug in our next editorial, though, and leave it to our readers to decide.
Very best for now.
Now we won't expand too much on how Len's friendly 'very best' wishes don't exactly exude collaboration - that's fairly easy to see.
We also won't linger too long on his own 'off beam' comments about Doug Richard, who we should point out, could probably find easier and more efficient ends to self-publicity than quitting Dragons' Den, writing two detailed, independent reports on the state of entrepreneurship in the UK and then setting up School for Startups to address the situation himself.
Nor, even, will you find us retaliating by making similarly disparaging remarks about Len's own website. Instead we'd actively encourage you to form your own opinions.
Indeed, unlike Len, we'd implore you to leave Smarta right now and visit The Home Business Alliance - just perhaps not all at once. Maybe go in batches of 30 - the HBA server should be able to cope with a tripling of its visitors...
In all seriousness, we're poking fun and Len's more than entitled to his point of view - I mean, you can tell from his homepage that he's very particular about who he links to.
Let's instead focus on those of you who prefer to work more collaboratively. If Smarta can help you then please tell us how - after all, that's where collaboration should start, by offering up what you can do for others. We're constantly on the lookout for case studies, guest bloggers, interview subjects and excellent sources of support we can direct Smarta members to.
If that's you, tell us (but perhaps don't tell Len)!