Strength in Numbers Making the Most of Partnership Opportunities

Strength in Numbers: Making the Most of Partnership Opportunities


 

Contrary to popular belief, seeking partnership opportunities as a small business isn’t a sign of weakness. Far too many newcomers to the start-up game confuse the exploration of collaboration with the admission of failure. Or at least, an indication that you’re struggling to get by.

In reality, meaningful partnerships are what transform run-of-the-mill smaller businesses into truly successful enterprises. Independence is one thing – strength in numbers is something else entirely.
Whatever potential you have on your own, it’s worth considering what you’d be capable of much more with a little help. Try to bear in mind that you’re far from the only business in your position with the same challenges, opportunities and ambition. And it’s when the smaller businesses out there come together to form much more capable enterprises that incredible things happen.
The question being – what can you do to ensure the partnerships you seek to deliver maximum value for your business?
Complex and intensive as the process may be, there are really just four things you need to bear in mind along the way. Proceed in accordance with the following and you’ve every chance of building the kinds of partnerships that create quite spectacular success stories:

1. There are multiple avenues to explore

First and foremost, always remember that partnership opportunities exist in endless forms. There are countless different types of collaborations to explore at a variety of levels – each presenting its own unique benefits, challenges and so on. Your job is to first decide what type of collaboration you’re looking for, while at the same time considering any other options that present themselves. The single most important rule of all being to never, ever dive into a partnership simply for the sake of it.

2. You’ll need a clear and complete strategy

So you’ve decided you want to explore the idea of collaboration. But why? What are you looking to get out of it? What can you offer? What will you be expecting in return? What are your long-term intentions for the partnership? Why should potential partners take you seriously? All the kinds of questions you’ll need to answer with the creation of a complete partnership strategy. A helpful document for clarifying and considering your intentions, while at the same time presenting your proposal to others. In short – you need to know what you want before you can go out and get it.

3. Every potential partner must be evaluated fully

This means taking into account far more than the compatibility of their business or service with yours. You may be doing the same thing for the same audience within the same industry, but does this guarantee you’ll succeed as partners? In a word, no. What about their attitude? Their work ethic? Their priorities? Their basic character traits? Their experience and expertise? The simple fact of the matter is that when it comes to partnerships, judging the proverbial book by its cover isn’t the way to go. Instead, you need to be prepared to scrutinise every potential partner right down to the finest detail.

4. The partnership must be monitored and optimised

Last but not least, however the partnership exists in the first instance, it will be far from perfect. In fact, there’s no such thing as ‘perfection’ when it comes to any kind of collaborative effort. As such, the only way to ensure you get the very most out of the collaboration is to focus on its continuous refinement and improvement. There will be endless opportunities for optimisation along the way – it’s up to you to find them and capitalise on them.

This post was provided by Innovate UK, an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.