In an extremely competitive marketplace, modern businesses are learning to compete with–not against–one another by forging strategic business partnerships. When a partnership works well, it can be just what a business needs to catalyze its increased growth.
The benefits of partnering are varied. A strategic partner can infuse additional capital or let the other partner leverage its brand for more exposure. A partner also can help the other partner win business by offering functions, skills, and services that the latter can’t provide. As with any partnership, there are keys to creating successful partnerships.
1. Find the optimal strategic partner.
Big opportunities worth pursuing abound but choosing the right one can be a challenge. The first place that CIOs need to look is within their own industry. The ideal partners will be able to give and receive benefits from each other that they are not able to provide for themselves on their own.
People have different drives, schedules, and approaches to doing business. If personal relationships are difficult enough in any way, shape, and form, that is even more true with business relationships. Thus, the right partners are those that come together on parallel platforms, levels, and goals.
2. Establish clear objectives.
Partners should take time to discuss the vision and mission of each company and to create shared objectives for the new partnership. They need to clearly define and agree on what they want, why they want it, and how they intend to fulfill those goals.
Each partner has his or her own reasons for being in the partnership. Sharing expectations for the present and future is necessary to ensure that each partner’s needs are addressed. In short, both partners should be aligned and have complementary objectives that are understood by all parties.
3. Leverage strengths and acknowledge weaknesses.
Not all businesses are perfect, but there certainly are strengths that each business can leverage. This is the essence of joining forces. Utilizing the strengths of the parties within the partnership will add value to the new alliance by enhancing the chances for long-term success.
Sometimes, a partner may have neither expertise nor interest in some areas. Partners need to be honest about their own weaknesses. They should leave nothing to chance and should identify pain points early so that they are able to create a strategy to manage them.
4. Complement each other: do not compete.
The duty of a good partner is to constantly learn from the other with the fulfillment of a commitment from each side even if each does business differently. Daily activities and clients may differ, but it is important to acknowledge the differences and to plan on a mutual course of action.
Partners who trust each other learn how to say no gracefully while respecting the other’s opinions and ideas. The reasons for turning down an idea are varied and may range from lack of resources, manpower, or time. What is important is that each partner should recognize the boundaries and find the right balance so that all partners continue to be committed.
5. Continue communicating.
Once the partnership is sealed, partners need to keep communicating, sharing both successful and not-so-successful stories. Failure to communicate important news, events, and decisions may lead to the erosion of absolute trust that is crucial to the success of every partnership. Modern technology easily allows the partners to communicate and stay in touch about important events.
Partnerships that aim to achieve long-term success can vastly improve each business participating in the partnership. These five steps can help make that happen.
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