Entrepreneurs tend to insist on doing everything related to their startup themselves, often without realizing that there are solutions that might help reduce their workload and save them time to be able to focus on the most important tasks.
Strategic alliances arise between companies through formal understandings and formulas that allow them to exchange business benefits. Such arrangements are beneficial to startups; the entrepreneurs who insist on doing everything on their own may miss out.
Late last year, Aramex, Google, PayPal, and ShopGo jointly launched EZStore, an e-commerce platform that offers discounts on payment gateways, logistics, and advertising. The four companies signed the partnership to target conventional offline retailers who wish to enter the e-commerce world in the Arab region. This is a good example of a strategic alliance between companies.
“Alliances can reduce costs and the duplication of efforts for entrepreneurial ventures and startups, and allow at the same time for all parties involved to operate according to their own plans and agenda. Alliances help startups surf different waves that could get them to places they wouldn’t be able to reach alone,” writes Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth M. Kanter in a blog post on the importance of alliances between companies.
The following are three steps that will help you strike new strategic partnerships for your project:
1. Decide on the type of partnership your project needs.
Your project might be in urgent need of wider marketing to deliver your message to new customers and markets; hence, creating a marketing partnership for the exchange and conversion of clients with another company that is interested in the same target market might be the one to work on.
A distribution partnership with a supplier so that your company becomes the exclusive distributor of its products in the region would give you an additional competitive advantage as well as the potential for special offers and lower rates.
If your project is based on a traditional business model like a clothing store, building a technical partnership with an IT company or an e-commerce website might allowing you to compete with bigger companies that have an online presence.
2. Look for the Perfect Match
Scan the market for companies that share the same interests and concerns as you, but that might not offer products or services that directly compete with yours.
Look next for the companies that possess skills and experience that you don’t. The partnership in itself is not the goal here. The goal is rather to collect new and different sources and resources for the project. At the same time, you should be attentive to the values and policies of these companies; a partnership with a cigarette brand, for instance, might negatively affect your company’s reputation.
Your clients may be your most important helpers in choosing the right partner. Identifying your clients’ needs and requirements, as well as the other companies they frequent, will make it easier for you to find the right match.
3. Make your company a coveted partner
When looking for new partnership opportunities for your project, you should make sure that everyone gets something out of it. To do this, you need to set in place several additional processes that facilitate cooperation and collaboration.
It might be useful, for instance, to agree with your partners to exchange regular reports on clients that contain specific information. Another example is the way you tell your customers about your new partnership. You might need to make an adjustment or addition to your website to make the new partnership announcement or the partner company’s logo clear and fitting for the importance of the announcement.
Getting equipped with these details will help you convince the best partners to work with you because they will better trust your ability to bring them benefits from a strategic partnership in a professional manner.
Finally, always remember that you continuously need to assess the usefulness of the partnerships and alliances for the project; if a partnership is not getting you the results you wished for, don’t think twice about making changes to it or finding a better partner.