A Few of History’s Most Successful Business Collaborations

Business success is achieved through teamwork and collaborations. A chief executive network is a great way to collaborate and reach your goals. The following are some of the country’s most successful partnerships. These successful business collaborations were built on mutual interest, and an unparalleled drive to succeed. By harnessing the powers of teamwork and collaboration, these business leaders were able to overcome their individual limitations, and build joint-ventures that have become household names. 


A Few of History's Most Successful Business Collaborations

Partnerships can be iffy. I have had a great one and a not so great one. My step-father had a very successful 40 year partnership in the wholesale jewelry business. They key to their partnership was that they were each responsible for a different division of the company so they each could be the boss and utilize their creativity, without stepping on one another’s toes. Then they had regular meetings about the overall goals and happenings within the company. One of the signs of a good leader is the ability to collaborate.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur learning to work effectively with employees and clients, part of a joint-venture, or just collaborating with someone for a special promotion, you can learn something about branding and business-building from the following collaborations.


Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak

A Few of History's Most Successful Business Collaborations

Jobs and Wozniak founded Apple in Cupertino, CA in 1976. The two men were friends in high school, and remained in touch for years to come. They got along well, and both shared a desire to create personal computers. Wozniak created the Apple I, and Jobs had the foresight to know that selling the device was the best way to fund their company.

What you can learn about their partnership: Jobs and Wozniak were good friends, and their shared interests was a crucial element of their success. Their partnership only lasted a few years, but what they created was timeless. Collaborations should begin with a shared interest, and each party should have something useful to contribute.


Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

Cohen and Greenfield (better known as Ben & Jerry) founded their ice cream company in Burlington, VT in 1978. The middle-school friends had a shared interest in ice cream, and took a class on ice cream making for $5, before pooling their resources and starting Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. Together, they invested $12,000 in their business (only $4,000 of the money was borrowed). The rest is delicious and socially conscious history.

What you can learn about their partnership: Cohen and Greenfield invested their own money, each of them taking an equal financial risk. They also shared a passion. (I happen to have a passion for their ice cream, too!) Successful partnerships are built on this sort of equality. It’s important to work out financial parameters before investing. That way, there’s no question about who is owed what at the end of a sales quarter.


Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger

Buffett and Munger merged businesses to operate the multinational conglomerate holding company, Berkshire Hathaway in Omaha, Nebraska in the 1960s. They weren’t neighbors. Nor were they childhood friends. These men met at an Omaha restaurant in 1959. Buffett lived in Omaha at the time, but Munger was a California based lawyer. Despite the distance between them, the men stayed in touch, and eventually merged their companies. Now, they’re two of the richest men in the country.

What you can learn about their partnership: Buffett and Munger managed to work together without being in the same state. Sometimes, it’s essential to build successful collaborations remotely. This was more difficult in the 1960s, than it is today when new digital tools allow us to communicate, collaborate, and interact with one another in real-time despite geographical distances.


Coco Chanel and Pierre Wertheimer

A Few of History's Most Successful Business Collaborations

Coco Chanel, or Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, was a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand. She is the only fashion designer listed on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Incredibly, Coco Chanel only owned 10% of her business! The rest was owned by her financier, Pierre Wertheimer. Now, you may hear this and think that it reflects poorly on her business sense, but it’s actually the opposite. By strategically partnering, Coco Chanel was able to: maintain exclusive creative control over her brand; leverage Wertheimer’s expertise, American business connections, and capital; and become fabulously wealthy off someone else’s seed money.

What you can learn about their partnership: Get over the ego of sharing profits with someone else and use the capital and resources at your disposal to get your brand out there. If a marginalized, unknown woman in the post WWI era was able to, so can you!


Not All Collaborations Last…

Collaborations can be really successful for a short time, and then fizzle out. Jobs and Wozniak built Apple, but they didn’t work together for more than a few years. Not all collaborations are going to last as long as your business does. The important thing is to lay out every ‘what, when where and how’ of the working relationship in your agreement, plus an exit strategy, just in case.

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Allison Maslan

Allison Maslan

Allison Maslan, CEO of Pinnacle Global Network, is the Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of Scale or Fail, which is endorsed by Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank. Allison’s built 10 successful companies starting out at age 19.

Now she and her team of CEO Mentors pay it forward by helping business owners scale their companies, fast-track their success, and create a more meaningful life. Pinnacle Global Network, a world leader in scaling companies and empowering business leaders has guided thousands of CEO's and Founders to success over the past decade. Allison’s been featured in Inc., Success, Fortune, Fast Company, and Forbes Magazines, is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, and a featured expert on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox across the US. She is also the host and producer of The Scale or Fail Show podcast, and the Women Who Own it Podcast in partnership with WBENC, the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in North America.


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