Small businesses sought out for greater collaboration

02-Nov-2017 1:14 PM

Mid-sized businesses $430,000 better off, on average, through joint initiatives

Larger Australian companies are looking to small businesses when it comes to collaboration; and those collaborations can lead to significant returns on investment.  

The 2017 American Express Business Collaboration Index found almost half (48%) of mid-sized businesses wanted to work more closely with smaller businesses in areas such as sharing infrastructure, knowledge, and marketing and sales activity.

The Index found that mid-sized businesses (annual revenue between $2m and $300m) that invested in collaborative efforts, achieved a profit 1.4 times their investment. This equates to average savings of more than $319,000, or an average increase in sales of close to $430,000.

The research found that, on average, businesses collaboration initiatives delivered a return on their investment within the first six months of the partnership. For 42% of mid-sized companies and 21% of small businesses, this ROI was faster than they expected.

Martin Seward, Vice President, Global Commercial Payments, American Express said, “The small and mid-sized business sector could gain billions of dollars through effective collaborations, and these partnerships can be profitable for all parties. Small businesses bring a different range of skills, insights and capabilities that complement larger businesses, helping make both more competitive.”

Small businesses also saw the benefits of collaboration, averaging a total benefit of $50,000 per partnership. Those small businesses that collaborated most effectively tended to look outside their industry (42%) or overseas (19%) to find opportunities to collaborate.


Other key findings from the Business Collaboration Index included:

  • Highly-effective collaborators were likely to partner with more organisations, more frequently, reporting 5.5 partnerships in the past 12 months, compared to the average of 3.4 collaborative efforts.

  • Businesses that had relatively low levels of collaboration also had lower commercial expectations for the coming year. Around half of these businesses weren’t expecting any growth in the next 12 months and very few of them had looked to bring any new products or solutions to market.

  • Businesses rated around three-quarters of their collaborations as successful (77% small businesses and 71% mid-sized businesses).


American Express’s top tips for successful business collaboration:

  • Know what you want to get out of a partnership before you get into it.

  • Make sure you have the fundamentals right. You really need to make sure your processes and systems are aligned.

  • Measure the return throughout the process – in as many different areas you can. For example many businesses told us they went into ventures to improve sales but found the biggest benefit was improved operational efficiency.

  • Finally, don’t be constrained in your thinking about what a collaborative partner should ‘look like’. Challenge yourself to look outside your industry or even country to find a business whose goals match your own.

To download a copy of the American Express Business Collaboration Index visit:



Notes to editors


For media enquiries contact Mark Lenyszyn, N2N Communications (0417 240 228 and or Jane Drew, American Express (0416 137 335 and


About the Business Collaboration Index - The Business Collaboration Index was designed and commissioned by American Express and undertaken by RFi Group. More than 700 businesses took part in the survey, 400 of which were small businesses (up to $2m in revenue) and 300 of which were mid-sized organisations ($2m-$300m in revenue).


Respondents included organisations from more than 15 key industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and professional services.


About American Express - American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and Content Here

Media contact

Jane Drew
Senior Manager, Public Affairs and Communication

Tel: +61 2 9152 0278

Mobile: +61 416 137 335

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