In his farewell address George Washington didn’t say those exact words, but his message was pretty clearly, “beware of foreign entanglements.” Right on, brother, and it applies to business too!

The lure of collaboration, especially with larger companies, is that the other guys will make you rich. It is tempting to think that the other company’s wealth will rub off on you or they will do most of the work. It won’t and they won’t.

Maybe synergy will make our combined efforts produce more money than either of us would produce alone! I have never seen that happen. Quite the opposite, actually. The added cross-company communication makes the project much harder than if you had done it just within your own team. These projects are never as simple as you think they will be. Every one you say yes to slows you down.

The bottom line is that no one else is going to make you rich. You have to do it yourself.

I don’t want this article to be a total downer, so let me say that interactions with other people and companies are not all bad. Make friends with people outside your company. Share advice, even with your competition, and you will both grow. Do favors like trade products or mention fun projects on your blog. Just be wary of expensive or time-consuming entanglements.