Collaborating with other business owners can increase the value of your brand, giving your small business a competitive edge while increasing your bottom line in transformational ways.
Strategic partnerships can provide you with capital, expose your brand to new markets, provide much needed resources and create additional revenue streams. Leveraging strategic partnerships can also help you compete against direct and more established competitors.
When you create smart strategic partnerships, you ultimately speed up the growth of your business. So, consider these tips and get ready to collaborate.
Think about your clientele.
When you’re evaluating a potential strategic business partnership, make sure you have a clear grasp of the value you bring to the table and what makes your business special (i.e., your unique value proposition). Also, be honest about your weaknesses. Seeking strategic partners that are experts in areas where you lack skill will free you up to focus on your core capabilities and provide more value to customers. You’ll also have more time to focus on opportunities that will help your business grow.
Qualify, qualify, qualify.
Even though a strategic business alliance is not “technically” a part of your business you will be working closely together and leveraging each other’s skills. So many small business collaborations fail because they don’t take enough time to qualify prospective partners. You should feel confident that your strategic partners will deliver what they promise. Do they attract the clientele you want? How does the industry view their reputation? Do you like them? Do your research and review their track record.
Clarify details upfront.
It is important that everyone is aligned and on the same page. Partnerships should be mutually beneficial. Both parties need to gain from the partnership for it to be worthwhile. Therefore, it is important to outline what each party wants to get out of the relationship and how you will work together. Each party should have a clear understanding of respective goals and expectations. It is also important to put those expectations in writing. When you have a clear understanding of your joint venture in writing, it’s easy to build a powerful and long-lasting business relationship.
Just like personal relationships, it’s best to test the waters and build confidence in the relationship before jumping in and getting heavily involved. Your partnerships need to evolve naturally, and that generally happens over time after successfully working together.
Communicate openly and frequently.
Once you’ve found a great strategic partner, don’t forget to keep the lines of communication open. It’s usually a good idea to coordinate regular meetings for all key people involved sharing information openly, particularly on financial matters and work out any problems that arise. This will allow you both to handle unexpected issues and changes quickly while keeping confidence levels high on both sides. The more trust there is, the better chance that the strategic partnership will work long-term.
If you’re a small business owner not benefiting from strategic partnerships, you should start thinking about how you can develop them. Offer your business new ways to build and grow.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Dana Sellers is a business development consultant and the founder of Gray Capital Solutions, a full-service consulting firm that focuses on the growth and development of startups and small businesses. Connect with @graycapsolns on Twitter.
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