You’re aware of the term ‘cooperative business.’ You’ve read about airbnb, “Renting unique accommodations” and even shared a ride on UBER, but what does this have to do with your business? You don’t see how cooperative whatchamacallit has anything to do with you and your organization. Borders, Blockbuster, and Kodak thought the same thing.

What about My Business?

Cooperative enterprise just means folks working together to create a better product, service, or experience. It doesn’t have to be a complete business model offering a new way to do things. It can be improved relations and information sharing with vendors such as Zappos. It could be better communication with customers, and it could encompass more employee feedback and participation. If your business has vendors, employees, and customers someone in your industry will embrace cooperative enterprise. Will it be you?

The World has Changed

Customers are becoming used to being in on things, being part of it. Products are segmented to fit their needs, they have a voice in the marketplace on Yelp, Google+, and more; they expect to be listened to. This is good news. We don’t have to guess what causes our customers pain, what our vendors don’t like about our business model, or what motivates our employees. They can be part of the cooperative.

But My Business is B2B?

Last week while riding with our COO he shared his vision. He’s a forward thinker. In 2008, he believed our little graphics company needed a social media presence. He excitedly began talking about his ideas for our CRM and customer service representatives. Its a vision with customers directly involved in the process, sharing real-time input and information. He shares similar ideas about cooperating with partners, vendors, and employees. He sees a cooperative future for our B2B business.

Cooperate or be Left Behind

That may seem a little drastic…but is it? When Borders closed their online division and signed an agreement with Amazon it seemed like a good move, not drastic. When blockbuster ignored the success of Netflex and RedBox they were following SOP, sticking with the status quo. If your business isn’t searching ways to connect in a cooperative way—someone in your industry is. And that someone not only may have an advantage; they may signal your company’s demise.

People Want to Cooperate

Not everyone, but enough to make a difference. A lot of folks want to help. They want to be “in” on things, and are willing to give time and effort to help you achieve success. And that’s great news. You can build a loyal fan base around people that are invested in your brand and it may be as simple as asking for their input—for their help and what’s wrong with that?

In this ever-changing segmented social media driven market, whether your business is B2B or B2C your best plan for the future may include incorporating opportunities of cooperation among all interested parties. How are you working in cooperation with your vendors, employees, and customers?