Are you doing well, but see others expanding quickly through new partnerships and alliances? Do you see a new business opportunity to expand, but you could not do it alone? Maybe others have approached you to partner, but you feel unprepared to begin the conversation? It does not have to be super complicated to pursue new partnerships. Let me show you how.
In my article: 3 Strategies for Business Growth - Use Your Business Plan, I make my case to renew your relationship with your business plan as a strategy to ignite business growth. Often this core planning tool is requested when partnership opportunities present themselves, and yes, it is going to be a critical element for completing the partnering discussions. However, an outdated one or a complete lack of one does not mean that you cannot get started seeking out partnership opportunities.
“Can you share your business plan?”
In this article, I want to show you a simple, straightforward way to start investigating new partnerships before you create the business plan to finalize them. So, if people you admire and respect approach you with a request to see your plan, fight the urge to dig out and update your old one to dazzle them. Alternatively, suppress the anxiety you feel because you do not have one yet. Say “Yes, absolutely!” and follow my process first.
STEP 1: Start by strengthening today.
Schedule a meeting away from any distractions to discuss strengthening your current working relationship. Use the following structure for these conversations: Review your current working relationship and each share what you would like MORE of and LESS of to strengthen and optimize what you do today.
Fight the urge to limit this conversation to how you could work together on one near-term opportunity, expand your thinking to include this and other possible opportunities. This dialogue should not be a one and done "next opportunity" discussion, this should be more far reaching and longer-term than just the prospect that is right in front of you.
STEP 2: Explore future goals.
Next, talk openly about what your long-range goals are. Discuss your thoughts about where you would like to be in 3 or 5 years and listen to theirs. Evaluate if your future goals are even compatible. If neither of you can talk about this, you are probably not ready to partner. Good exploration, but don’t waste your time thinking of a partnership. Keep your relationship on a transaction level. If they seem to be compatible, define what success could look like by outlining a few ideal goals.
STEP 3: Clarify the shift you would each need to make to enhance your working relationship.
Let us call this strategy development lite. With a sense of what you could create together – your ideal goals - discuss what would need to shift to make this a reality. Shift for you AND shift for them.
Use our simple FROM – TO exercise to identify what each of you would need to shift. FROM activities you are engaged in today, TO activities you would need to be engaged in for your common goals to be realized. For example, FROM attending tradeshows as two separate entities TO defining the best tradeshows to attend together to market your new offering.
This initial FROM – TO investigation will reveal a great deal to each of you about how this might come together. Don’t debate in this discussion, just explore and investigate each other’s thinking.
STEP 4: Step away and think about it.
From this structured discussion, you and your potential partner will have a much better sense of what an enhanced working relationship could look like. Take the time to step away and examine it carefully. Is this what you want? Is it the right thing for you to focus on now? Can you make the shifts necessary to deliver on it? Can they?
Make an agreement to come back together to discuss next steps. If, after reflection, you determine that this is something you should pursue, you now want to take the time to create a business plan with specifics that measure progress and track commitments. If not, come back with ways you can work together, but not in a formal partnership agreement.
Want to be better prepared to explore partnering opportunities? Get started on your with your strategic thinking with our FREE Quick Start Kit.