Partnering has become a favored strategy to achieve growth goals. Favored because it is often faster to partner than to take the time to build what someone else has established and in today’s world speed to implement can be the difference between success and failure.
However, not every possible partner is the right strategic partner for your future success and partnering without thinking about it deeply can be catastrophic.
First, define what you want to achieve in partnering with others. Be as specific as possible. Here are just a few examples of reasons to partner:
- Do you want to fill a gap in your offering? Do you see a need in with existing customers that you don’t have the competencies, desire or capacity to fill? Adding to your offering with a strategic business partnership could be the fastest to expand what you offer to keep ahead of the competition or to increase your share of your customer's spending.
- Do you want to find new revenue streams? This could be through augmenting someone else’s offering (fill their gap as defined above) or it could be to enter a new market by partnering with an established player in that market.
- Do you want to increase your visibility? You may be struggling to gain any awareness in a crowded market, by partnering with someone larger, with a higher level of awareness, you could break through and stand out.
Next, you need to scan the market from the mindset of your target audience (your ideal customer). Who do they see as competitors or possibly complementary products or services? It is important to see this from the perspective of your target audiences - they may see entities as competitors that you know are not true competitors. It does not matter if they are true competitors; it matters how your customers might view them. Who do they name when they seek you out or when you engage them. Who is in your competitive set?
An ideal strategic business partner could be one that your target audience views as a competitor. What better way to pique their interest?
Finally, generate a list of possible candidates you could partner with that could achieve your goals. Don’t be too surprised if you have collaborated with some on this list in a limited way. Sometimes, but not always, the best new partner is one you have already met.
For how to engage in discussions to establish a new partnership, read my article: