John Donne said “no man is an island” – and the same principle applies to your business. Finding the right partners and nurturing those relationships is what sets the successful businesses apart from the rest.
At Cloud9 Insight, we’ve seen a 60% increase in profits and revenue in the past year, all because of our investment in partnerships.
Here are our top tips for those looking to collaborate with other businesses:
1. Collaborate, don’t compete
An obvious one, but the value a company creates is not just what happens within the four walls of the business, but the value it also creates in its supply chain. Competitors working together, sharing ideas and resources can be a great thing – ‘coopetition’ can accelerate innovation and be a great thing for customers and collective success.
2. Discuss what you want early on
You need to make sure everyone’s on the same page. The value of the partnership, the definition of what a win-win looks like, should be discussed and identified early on. This could be a collaborative product development or simply a lead referral with a commission, or even about delivering high-quality services as a trusted supplier to your partner’s clients without any commission. It helps to have clear commercials and contracts in place, including an NDA, as trust is everything. We have found developing unique joint propositions can greatly enhance the value of the partnership.
3. Expand into other sectors
The Microsoft eco-system (in which we work) is very collaborative, and fosters a community of partners that work together to better serve customers. In more recent years we realised that collaborating outside of this bubble of tech partners, with partners like legal firms and accountancies (such as our SMB Growth Hub), that share a purpose of supporting clients’ growth is hugely valuable – accessing clients that you may not have previously been able to.
4. Be flexible
Be ready to listen to your partners and adapt to their way of working. Don’t take a cookie-cutter approach as every business is different – be agile and you’ll be more likely to create win-win propositions for every relationship.
5. Ensure you’re a good cultural match
It’s essential to have a good cultural match between two businesses which target the same customer base. Check out their values, and if they stand for the same things you do.
6. Be prepared to walk away
It can be difficult to accept when something’s just not working out, and breaking a business partnership can feel like a relationship split. Ensure the split is by mutual consensus, hopefully with contracts that also cover the terms in the event of a termination of a partnership, and any mutual clients should be proactively contacted to clarify the position of any termination. In most cases, termination may appear more like a gradual reduction in investment of time by both parties than a abrupt stop.