- Buying Power: Two small businesses have greater buying power than each alone. Purchasing power can be leveraged to buy equipment, supplies or other consumables for your business. There are also less tangible things that can be shared between you and your partners, such as services like training, cleaning and insurance.
- Exposure: Smart partnering can help expose your business to new groups of customers, insulated communities or hard to reach consumers. Perhaps you have a strong regional presence, but have had difficulty making inroads in the northern part of the state. Whether its a mention in your partner’s literature, website or directly promoting your business to their customers, using a partners’ contacts and reputation can be a valuable way to get a foothold with new groups of customers.
- Networking: Similar to exposure, networking goes beyond drawing customers to your business. Networking allows you to share business partnerships, suppliers, as well as customers. These individuals may not be purchasing your product or service, but may be able to tell you who might.
- Get work by giving work: Creating a strong network of business partnerships can be a valuable way to provide good customer service. When you can’t meet a customer’s needs. whether that’s a service you don’t provide or don’t serve the area, a reference to a reliable business can be a relationship saver. In turn, both the customer and the other business are happy, and may return the favor.
Who’s your Partner
- Reputation: Perhaps the greatest asset of any business you are looking to partner with is their reputation. Are they a well established family business or a struggling company just out of bankruptcy and embezzlement charges. The reputation of the company your partnering with can reflect on your business both for good or ill. Not only can it color customer’s views of your business but it may also tell you alot about how they’ll treat you in the partnership.
- Can you partner with your competition? Creating partnerships with businesses which are complementary to your business is probably the easiest of the partnerships because there’s no worry about losing customers to your partner. However, your competition needn’t be out of the question as a partner. Cooperation could earn both of you greater benefits than spending your time counteracting each other.
- Needs: The greatest reason to partner with another business or agency, is that somewhere your needs are going to be met. Whether its having the same needs for training or supplies or complementary needs that you can fulfill for each other, knowing what you need from the relationship and being able to meet those needs is key in the partnership.
Evaluate before Committing
- Though you know that partnering can be beneficial to your business, before you get in any sort of partnership, you need to evaluate your company’s needs and your ability to commit to a partnership. Define what you are wanting from the relationship, and what you are able to give in return. Areas to consider include:
- Services, Products or Customers: Are your interests in sharing customers or in purchasing? Clearly define what you are wanting from the relationship, and willing to give.
- Time: Is this a short term partnership to develop an event or are you looking to establish a long term relationship
- Formal or Informal: As a small business partner you may have many formal and informal relationships with other businesses. It’s important to understand what you want from another business, especially if you’re approaching someone who is not an established contact.
- Defining these areas will provide you a set of standards against which to evaluate any potential opportunities.
Partnerships can be excellent ways to build your business and develop networks of complementary and competitive businesses. Whether it’s working together on a project, sharing customers and leads or leveraging buying power, partners are a necessary part of business. Setting out clear goals about what your business needs are, and what you hope to achieve by developing these relationships will help you evaluate potential partners, leading to happier ventures in the future for those that meet your needs and you theirs.