One of the most dynamic moves available to you is the formation of a informal partnership between a business(es) that is (1) Similar in nature to yours or (2) Complementary to your products or services. Regardless of what form a partnership takes -- short term, long term, deeply integrated or something more casual, all have the potential to drive in new clients and help strengthen existing client relationships.
With the importance and value of a business partnership in mind, listed below are seven tips to help you establish and maintain strong business partnerships.
7 Tips For Partnering With Other Businesses:
Tip #1. Develop A Unified Vision: The start of any business partnership should begin with a firm understanding of the partnership's purpose. What motivates each of your companies? What drew you to one another? The factors that align your businesses will serve as the basis for your partnership's plan. That partnership plan should include all the various details concerning how your businesses will interact with one another.
Tip #2. Address Individual Needs: While a partnership may be a unified initiative, it is still driven by independent businesses, each with its own needs and wants. Part of maintaining a strong business partnership is to avoid being self-serving; instead, be sensitive to each other's wants and needs and provide support when available. The more you help each other with your individual goals, the stronger your partnership becomes and the more likely you are to achieve your unified goals.
Tip #3. Identify Strengths & Weaknesses: Every business has its strengths and weaknesses. One of the benefits to establishing a business partnership is finding ways to complement your individual businesses (where one excels and the other falls short). Beyond creating a more powerful entity by maximizing your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses, your businesses should theoretically learn and grow from one another, strengthening as not only a team, but improving individually as well.
Tip #4. Establish Partnership Roles: Business partnerships do come with their risks, such as stepping on each other's toes or overstepping boundaries. You presumably established your business partnership because of a very clearly defined advantage(s) that a cooperative venture would yield for each of you. As part of the plan development touched on in Tip #1, you should put into writing what each partner's role is, what limitations there are and even include accountability as a precaution.
Tip #5. Show Respect Throughout The Partnership: A business partnership is a relationship. That means you need to be responsive and communicate regularly to keep one another abreast of mutual interests and project status. You need to be honest about situations that affect one business or the other to avoid damaging your relationship, and carefully manage any disagreements that may turn up by mistake or misfortune. Like any relationship, communication is key. So be honest and keep in touch regularly so everyone is on the same page.
Tip #6. Maximize Partnerships With Webpages: One of the best ways to get the most out of your business partnership is to mutually agree to develop a partner page on your respective websites. Most businesses start with something simple, like a list of its business partners accompanied by the business' logo. But partner pages can be extremely lucrative, driving traffic to your partner's website from yours and to yours from theirs. Ultimately, you should design partner pages so that they add value to both your companies and your websites. So when designing a partner page, make them as dynamic and compelling as you can.
Tip #7. End Partnerships Peacefully: As we have already established, business partnerships are relationships, and just as with interpersonal relationships, there are ups and downs. When these downs start to negatively affect both businesses in a partnership, the most prudent business decision may be to go your separate ways. The trick, of course, is to navigate these separations so the partnership concludes amicably. Any bad blood, so to speak, will only be bad for both your businesses. So when forced to end your business partnership, work hard to part ways peacefully.
Executive Summary: Business partnerships can be a powerful venture for two or more businesses. But fundamentally, both companies need to be extra sensitive and cautious about each business' individual needs -- especially if your companies are relatively new to one another.
We also know that business partnerships come and go. And should you find yourself needing to part ways, do so on good terms in order to preserve each other's image. Additionally, it is best to put something in writing with the business you are partnering with - but most importantly, each company needs to have someone who is responsible for the implementation and management of the partnership. Otherwise, there is a good chance it will not work for everyone involved.