It is important to realize that partnerships often begin with personal relationships; people want to do business with those they know and trust. Find businesses that complement yours and try to establish working relationships with them. Go to industry shows, schmoozy conferences and parties, and any other place where you will have a chance to meet people. Find out what individuals your friends can put you in touch with. It takes time to build a relationship that gives you an opportunity to establish a partnership. Get to know that person on a personal level before you jump into suggesting partnership ideas. Take them out to breakfast or lunch to discuss what is going on with their business. Even if you are not able to form a partnership, this person may refer you to individuals who may want your product or service.
At the same time, you must realize that even with a personal connection, you need to have something that will make a partnership worthwhile. As a small company, you will often have to give up more in order to form a partnership with a better-known company. While there are many different ways to form partnerships - dual promotions, joint products, licensing - even partnerships formed on the simplest level can have a valuable impact on your business. Offer the brochures of another company in your stores. Put a link to their web site on yours. Even a small partnership effort will create the opportunity for bigger things down the road.
Things to think about
- What companies have interests that are compatible with the products and services of your business?
- What major industry players would you benefit from having a partnership with?
- What can you offer these companies in order to entice them to engage in a partnership with your business?
- How do they stand to benefit from a partnership with you?
- What contacts and resources will help in making contact with potential companies to form partnerships?
- How can you increase your base of contacts?
Partnerships and joint ventures are fast becoming the way for small businesses to move to the next level. As consolidation occurs in many industries, many smaller companies are clinging to the coattails of larger companies. Joining forces with a well-known company gives your business instant credibility and a great springboard.