Lately, I’ve been hearing stories about business partners and their tragic fallout from “strategic alliances” . . . largely because people rushed into them as the “next new thing” without thinking it through.
My advice: Begin with the end in mind.
The most important question to ask yourself about a strategic alliance is: Do I really need one?
Many small business owners run around “collecting” partnerships for the sake of having them, without focusing on whether their own business needs will get met. Or whether the work to create and sustain a business alliance will outweigh its benefits.
Don’t start by thinking, “I want to form an alliance – who can I bring on as a partner?” Instead start with, “I have a business goal and an alliance is a good way to get me there.”
Selecting Power Partners in Business
What are your immediate business goals? The answer to this question is vital, because it will help you decipher a) whether you will truly benefit from an alliance b) if so, who is the most appropriate ally for your company, and c) what is the best way to engage them.
For instance, let’s say you have decided that you can achieve your business goals better, faster, and more efficiently with an ally — rather than by yourself. If so, it is time to choose the right “power partners.”
Power partners are people or companies that can give your business the boost that you’re seeking in the way that you’re seeking it.
How do you choose? Before you align yourself with a new business partner you’ll want to ask yourself if the person or company:
1. Offers products or services that complement yours (direct competitors are often not a good power partner choice)?
2. Attracts the kinds of clients you want to attract?
3. Has a reputation that is unscathed (do your homework on this one)?
4. Is in an industry that you want to move into?
5. Is a larger (or smaller) business, and if so, will that make a difference in who controls the relationship?
6. Has the right type of experience?
7. Is enjoyable to work with — what is their “corporate culture” like?
8. Has clear goals to collaborate with you and your company? Are their goals compatible with yours?
Many small business owners don’t take time to pre-qualify their power partners . . . a significant reason why so many arrangements fail. But if you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, then you’re off to a great start.