More than half of early-stage companies identify sharing resources as vital to SME success, according to a report published by car sharing and car club service Zipcar, in conjunction with StartUp Britain and Ashridge Business School.

Rather than a last resort to cut costs, for the majority of those surveyed, collaboration represents a key element of their business plan, with over a fifth choosing to share office space and 31% sharing their workforce with another company.

“Sharing with other companies enables start-ups to access resources they might not otherwise afford, as well as providing greater flexibility, reducing overheads and improving the bottom line,” said Zipcar UK’s general manager Mark Walker.

“In the UK lots of companies are large processors with huge turnovers, but they are quite inflexible,” said Charles Baughan, owner of Devonshire sausage firm Westaways, who was surveyed for the report. “SMEs like ours can dodge around the big businesses, adding value and being flexible by exchanging skills with others.”

Fashion business owners Sam Brightmore, of small boutique chain Bottega, and Donna Ida, who runs the denim brand of the same name, are another pair who, the report says, have discovered the advantages of co-operation, having initially made contact through Twitter to share appreciation for each other’s’ collections but have since found there to be significant cost savings in joining forces on international buying trips.