Finding the perfect (business) partner

Starting a business is something that many people dream of, but turning a dream into a reality doesn’t come without hard work, a bit of risk taking, as well as some hurdles to tackle along the way. With immediate decisions and issues coming thick and fast, it’s easy to get caught up with the here and now and take your focus off the bigger picture but planning for the longer term future is ultimately what determines whether your business will succeed or not.

One way to tackle this is to create partnerships within your industry or peer groups. These can be vital in helping push your business on and in the direction you want it to go. But identifying, securing and working with someone else is not always as simple as it sounds. Here is some advice on what to expect from a partnership and how to go about securing one in the first place.

Identify the right partner

You’re looking for a partner that compliments the skills you already have, not mirror them so it’s important to research who might be able to add further value to your company. Identifying potential companies to partner with and understanding what they are already doing will be hugely beneficial. For example, can they offer advice on best practice or open doors to contacts you might not have had access to otherwise?

Industry events are a great way to meet your prospects and contacts as it gives you the opportunity to network with other likeminded people in the industry or hear presentations from leaders in the field. These events are vital in gaining further insight into the industry, understanding what else is going on out there and what the big players are working on at the moment.

Use social media as much as you can to make new connections, particularly Twitter and LinkedIn.   Joining LinkedIn immediately adds credibility to your business as well your own profile. As a professional tool it allows you to interact with the leaders of other businesses, whilst also raising your own profile through blogs and discussion posts.

Don’t overlook the power of your existing networks though. It’s likely that you’ll already have a few contacts who could be relevant for your new venture so don’t be afraid to approach them about potential partnerships too.

Lastly, be bold. Don’t be afraid to approach the big names, especially if you have something that you feel can be mutually beneficial. Before you do though, do your research and make sure you look at the types of companies they have partnered with and what they are doing with them; they could already be tied into a deal with a similar business to yours.

Stand your ground

Although partnerships can be beneficial to all involved, there will always be an element of negotiation that needs to be tackled before anyone can reap the full benefits. Negotiating terms is not for the faint hearted but the partnership needs to ultimately benefit your business so don’t enter into an agreement that you’re not comfortable with. Make sure you stand your ground and secure the right deal for you, whether you’re looking for increased brand awareness, improved sales or further partnerships based on the ties the company has. Also, don’t be afraid to take a bit of time, a few days, a week or even a month, to consider the deal. Rushing into snap decisions can prove costly, so taking that time to consider all avenues is a wise move and any potential partner should respect that.

Plain sailing

Once you’ve successfully put together a partnership agreement the business should be able to operate as it had done before. If expectations have been set out clearly at the beginning and there is a clear line of communication between the two companies, then it should benefit both equally. However, if your partner starts to steer things in a particular direction you don’t agree with, it’s important that you address any issues early in order to ensure the success of the relationship in the future.

A partnership can make or break a company especially in the early stages, so putting in the time to research and identify the right partner is vital. Do it right and you could ultimately reap the rewards further down the line.

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