The first and foremost indicator of a successful business network is a common purpose. Even seemingly
unrelated businesses can prosper from cooperation if they share the same goal. Consider the Desert
Knowledge Australia (DKA) network project.
The outback of Australia is an enormous area containing
thousands of small businesses. Despite the fact that many are hundreds of miles apart they still compete
for tourism dollars.
In the past this competition resulted in the development of numerous factions and rivalries that often did more harm than good. With the introduction of the DKA network project, however, the combined resources of many businesses have enticed a wider array of customers by introducing ‘desert
These include inter-linking activities such as sporting events, pub-crawls, heritage trails, eco-tours, and so on, interspersed with restaurant deals, hotel accommodations, and transport
services. On their own, each of the businesses that offer these services may lack the skills or resources to promote itself to a wider customer base. Working together, however, they can. Furthermore, almost all of the companies involved now believe that cooperating with other businesses, apart from being practical, is a natural way to do business.
How do networks begin? Two methods seem to dominate. The first method uses a third party such as a
business development centre or a chamber of commerce to bring different entities together and propose
working in unison. The second involves the introduction of two or more like-minded businesspeople at a
social gathering (a newfound personal agreement between long-term acquaintances falls into this category).
Either way, the ingredients for success seem to revolve around an established social environment, mutual
interests and trust combined with a can-do attitude.
Once the details have been hammered out, the formation of a cooperation agreement is carried out
through a variety of methods ranging from contractual agreements to a handshake.