I just returned from an early morning partner referral meeting; and when I got back to my desk (currently a library table/chair) I looked over the notes I took, the thank you’s and leads that I was given or provided and I was so appreciative of having that group of people around me - supporting, motivating, counseling, and challenging me.
Though I am a solopreneur myself with a part time contract assistant, my own business model and business survival is dependent on the partnerships and alliances I have formed, formally or casually, with many other smart, connected, and results oriented individuals - business people.
Those partnerships are critical for a number of reasons:
• Their experience and expertise - that I do not have
• Their network and connections - that could benefit me in referrals or leads
• Their products and services - that not only I may need but my clients may need
• Their motivation, support and challenges - that keep me moving forward, not allowing me to fall backward
• Their perspectives, debates, and collaboration - that ensures I am always thinking outside the box and not getting tunnel vision
I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture.
Having other people in my immediate circle provides huge benefits to not only me personally, but my business, and my clients. They are there to help me grow, my business prosper, and my clients to be loyal and fully supportive.
The benefits of partnerships outweigh any risks or downsides; i.e. the partner does not have the same values of you, so issues arise. The way I see it, any issue with a partner is my lack of qualifying them based on a criteria and value based philosophy that I work and live by. Therefore if you lay out what you want in a partner or alliance and you qualify and set that expectation clearly, there are no downsides to partnering.
Business owners will often tell me they do not know how to go about forming partnerships - so here are 5 tips to help you navigate the Partner and Alliance plan:
1. Define clearly what role, values, requirements, results, and objectives you would want from a partner/alliance
o If there are referral or affiliate plans desired, define them
2. Document that in a one pager that can be shared with anyone that you qualify
3. Identify 3-5 functions, roles or areas of business that you, your business or your clients could benefit from a third party partner.
o Keep in mind, Partners can fill skill and talent gaps you or your business are missing
4. Take your time and either identify on your own individuals you would like to qualify as partners, or that you ask others for recommendations (which is even better if you have a strong relationship with the person providing you a recommendation.
5. Interview several and ask them for results or references
o You can even test run them on a small project if desired
And if you are hesitant or nervous about pursuing partnerships consider the benefits again listed above. They far outweigh the anxiety of pursing them, making mistakes along the way, or not doing it at all.