How to Make the Most of Strategic Business Partnerships
Originally Posted On: Switch and Shift
By: Kristin Stith
Massive tasks or projects have the capacity to strain the limits of any company’s knowledge and resources at times. The CEO must decide if it’s worth spending valuable time and money to tackle something that could dramatically affect the team’s productivity. Often, only an outside third party can knock out those projects and get the company from point A to point B. Finding a third party that can work seamlessly with your own business may seem daunting. But leveraging outside partnerships is often more effective, and less expensive, than taking big projects on yourself.
Every Move Counts
For small businesses especially, every minute and every dollar must be squeezed for all they’re worth. Establishing trusted partnerships with vendors, service providers and outside experts will ensure those seconds and cents are well-spent, resulting in a myriad of benefits, particularly if you’re tight on resources.
No new business is expected to have a staff of experts in every field. Partnerships can provide the expertise needed without a nationwide search for in-house talent. Plus, the commitment level isn’t as high with an outside source, so an unsuccessful relationship can be more easily severed without damaging your team’s internal culture.
Business partnerships can also be used to better serve customers in unexpected ways. FedEx, for example, offers conveniences like brochures, business stationary, and direct mail services for businesses to strengthen their branding and outreach. Everything from bulk supplies to alternative services can be improved by capitalizing on these strategic business relationships. It’s all a matter of building the right arrangements with the right teams.
Setting Up for Success
When partnering with an outside service provider, the beginning phases are crucial. You must go above and beyond with your communication, transparency, and expectations. View this as an investment; the more time you put into the beginning of the relationship, the more return you’ll see on that investment in the future. The point of a true partnership is to promote growth. Establish the right framework and work toward a better business with these steps:
Get Your Ducks in a Row
Make sure you have your specific project, internal team, processes, and procedures in place so these vendors can come in and do their jobs well. Imagine each business is a house. You may hire the most impressive landscaping team to mow the lawn and trim the shrubberies, but if the kitchen is on fire, the whole project is doomed from the start. Get your own house in order before you look for help from the outside.
Lock in Your Goals with Their Capacity
Chances are good you aren’t this vendor’s only client. If you expect assistance that goes far above and beyond a vendor’s initial offer, it’s time to dial back your expectations. Many vendors can produce excellent work, and excellence should be expected. Just remember you’re not a client’s boss, and there is a threshold where your partnership stops providing them with value.
Keep Them in the Conversation
It is incredibly important to be transparent about what you want and need. Give detailed information whenever you can, and remember no piece of insight from you will go unwanted. Constantly check in and be prepared to commit to having a very open line of communication.
View Partnerships as Equals
If you begin to see your vendors as an extension of your own team, you will be in great shape. A business should have the same goals as its vendor, treating the vendor like any other highly valued employee. Let the vendor know when it’s performing well, and be upfront and honest if it isn’t.
If a partnership doesn’t make your business stronger, faster, or more efficient, it’s a waste of your time. More often than not, however, these relationships with vendors are crucial to a business’s early growth.
If you know what you need, what to expect and how to implement it efficiently, a quality relationship will bring both you and your partner to new and impressive heights.