Growing as a business can be a lonely endeavor. If you are the solo owner, your resources are those that you acquire on your own. If you work as a partner, you might or might not work together on each part of the business. Yet, most of the time, you end up working as a solo manager on a project or department goal.
Do you remember what it was like playing for a team? If you were like most kids that played youth sports, being on a team gave every member the ability to pitch in and offer what they were good at while it also allowed certain times to respect and admire other talents and skillls as well.
Why is partnering with other leaders so important and what is needed to make it a good venture?
Israel Idonije, founder and CEO of ATHLITOACOMICS, indicated several important factors in a recent article published on Entreptreneur.com. In the article, he states that being in an effective and productive partnership is founded on a common vision and purpose that will result in building and creating more than what each of the participating partners could have done on their own.
Joining forces in a partnership is a great way to add talent and reinforce your strenghts in business without having to lose your identity or foothold in the market. In the case of Israel Idonije, he realized this when he came across Trophy Brands. Where his company was an NFL licensee that develops comic content in comics and sports, Trophy Brands also shared that space as an NFL licensee with 20 years in the candy industry.
Together, they realized a vision. They both wanted to offer licensed products and were able to make the first of its kind consumable licensed product - Quarterback Gummies. This is a candy product that comes from the experience of one brand and the creative and artistic design of a comic company in the other.
5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself To Make A Partnership Work Out
Similar to a good marriage or long-term relationship, you want to try to be on common ground and avoid misunderstandings. These are a few questions to consider:
Do you have synergy between the two of you?
If you do this, will both of you get visibiity?
Is this an innovation or of relevance to anyone?
Are you adding any value to your customers?
Does it make sense to do the project alone?
If you have ever gone through mentoring or spoken with a startup advisor, it is always recommended to work with others. Working with another provider in your space takes into account your business risks because they are those of your considered partner as well.
Many times, working with a partner brand or services can be tricky. The "territorial feelers" can get prickly and one of the two may get "bad vibes".
Yet, it's important to work with competitors and brand advocates in your space for innovation ideas and relevant services that alone, would take twice the effort to get started.
6 Reasons To Include The Competition
1. Mitigate costs and learning
In many start ups, there are areas that are learning curves or "non-specialty" areas such as accounting, hr, payroll, or marketing. If these are not your specialites, consider outsourcing these through a partnership to lower your cost investment and error rates in quality control.
2. Joining distribution channels
It could be that each of the partnerships owns a distributin channel that by joining forces can amplify your market offering considerably.
3. Opportunity for cross selling
If your customers could benefit from your partnership, depending on if each service in the partnership is unique one from another, then it is feasible that custoemrs in each of the partnerships might benefit from knowing the specialty offerings of the other.
4. Understand your clients better
Sometimes being in the same space, whether as a service or product, a business can get tunnel vision. Knowing how customers react to other competition is enlightenting if you are open to learning from your competitors and vice versa.
5. Referral or affiliate marketing
Not everyone can take on customers and not hit a production level. You might know that your solution is not an exact fit. If you can find an agreement that suits both parners, referring interested leads that are bought-in to the service you and your partner provide, a referral agreement can be very useful in earning new business.
6. Cooperative relationships can lead to buy outs
If you take the position of hoping for a win-lose relationsihp from your competitor or putting them at a disadvantage, your result could be discouraging. It's risky, costly, you will lose time doing it, and most competitors are clever and not desparte.
Most buy outs come from cooperative relationships that reflect good working arrangements and transparency in the course. If your goal in owning a business is eventually selling your share, working with your competition is a benefit.