Small companies can benefit greatly from creating effective strategic partnerships. If executed correctly, strategic partnerships can be a key component of your business’ growth. However, if not executed well, strategic partners can suck up time and money and potentially harm your brand and/or your business.
Step 1 to a successful strategic partnership is choosing your partners correctly. If you’ve decided to begin pursuing strategic partnerships, make sure that you take the time at the outset to do your research and be sure that any potential partners are the right fit for your organization.
- Strategic partners should offer complementary products or services. You’re clearly not going to partner with your direct competitors but you also can’t partner with businesses that are completely unrelated to your own. You need to think about what products or services make sense to add to your own. Think about complementary products, or products that make sense to be purchased together, and be creative with it. For example, let’s say you’re a hair stylist with expertise in special occasion hair. You probably won’t add much value by partnering with a pizza parlor, but there are definitely opportunities for partnerships with nail technicians, spray tan technicians, makeup artists, limousine companies, or anyone providing another service associated with special occasions.
- Strategic partners should have a good reputation. Remember, once you decide to partner with someone their actions reflect on you, so make sure that you do your research on potential strategic partners to be sure they consistently provide a quality customer experience that is up to standards you would be proud of. Otherwise, their bad behavior could cost you business.
Step 2 to a successful strategic partnership is to be clear about your goals and your partner’s goals. You and your partner will never be able to effectively work together to help each other exceed goals if you don’t know what those goals are first. Before you approach a potential strategic partner be sure that you’ve clearly defined what you hope to get out of the arrangement, what you think your partner will get out of the arrangement, and how you think these goals will be accomplished. Then make sure you discuss and agree upon the goals and the strategies for achieving those goals so that the partnership will be a success.
Step 3 is to regularly check in with your partner, assess your progress and success, and adjust goals where necessary. A partnership isn’t a static agreement that never gets updated. Just as every business is constantly changing, so should the expectations of any partnership so that it continues to be successful by adapting to the changing needs of the businesses.
Following these three straight-forward steps should help you develop successful strategic partnerships that will help your business, and that of your partner, grow. For a few more tips, check out Janine Popick’s article “4 Reasons Business Partnerships Fail” for Inc.com.
What are your best practices for creating and maintaining strategic partnerships? Please share your tips in the comments below.