This is a guest post by Enterprise Europe Network, the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with international ambitions.
Small businesses have a lot to offer. The right partnerships can help grow your company and take it to the next level. Implementing these should be a central element of your strategy.
A shared vision in business is a win-win all round. However, for some, this sounds easier said than done. What’s the secret behind it? Here’s how to secure partnerships as a small business.
Identify what you’re looking for
There are many types of partnership business out there, so it can be tough narrowing it down and pinpointing exactly what it is you’re looking for. However, it’s essential you do so. You need to have clearly laid out expectations and goals from the beginning. This places you in a much better position, with the chances of securing the partnership greatly raised.
There are many different relationships you could be looking for, such as sponsorships. Do you want an equal partnership? Shared revenue? Or, do you want to maintain most of the control?It’s vital you know the answers to these questions before looking for a partner. Embarking on this journey can be tough, particularly if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Do your research
Does your vision align with a potential partner’s? Consider a number of different factors, including their:
- Long-term plan
- Business priorities
Failure to do your research, ensuring no stone is left unturned, will waste the time of everyone concerned. These early stages are critical to getting it right, so make sure you look at all the finer details.
View your business from the outside
Try and see your business as other people would see it. Look at what makes your business special – identifying why others would want to partner with you. Taking a step back is essential for seeing your company in a new light, in a way you may not have considered before.
Don’t be afraid of setbacks
Many partnerships don’t come to fruition, which is a natural part of the process. Use any setbacks as a chance to go back to the drawing board, work on your pitch, and start afresh. Try and identify the reasons why it went wrong, to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes again. Did you undersell yourself? Did you fail to stay engaged? Were you unfocused?Sometimes – the outcome is out of your control. However, it’s worth trying to pinpoint any mistakes you made.
Work out how you add value
It’s key to identify the places you’d add value to another business. Use this to your advantage when trying to secure the relationship. You need to be able to sell your value and your great ideas. A partnership should be mutually beneficial, so you need to work out how you’d maintain your part of the deal.
Keep your customers in mind
Always have your customers or audience in mind. How will this partnership benefit them? What will they make of it? You don’t want to lose the core values of your business due to a new relationship.
One key objective should always be to ensure your visions are aligned. If you feel as though your partner isn’t maintaining what you’ve agreed, or you’re unhappy in some way – don’t be afraid to be firm. Remember, earning loyalty and developing a strong business relationship can take time. However, there are an abundance of benefits that go hand in hand with this – so it’s worth sticking it out.
Grow Your Network
The more people you know, the better! Don’t stop at one connection, but look for other ways to grow this further. Partnerships can arise from unexpected places, so always keep an eye out for the next chance to expand. The foundations can take time to lay, but give way to a number of lucrative opportunities.