Strategic partnerships are a fantastic way of adding value to your company, but you need to choose carefully. Make a poor choice and you could find yourself being treated as the 'lesser partner' in the relationship, but choose well and you will find the pairing is mutually beneficial. We have five steps you need to take in order to find the right match.
Firstly, you need to know your own company inside and out. It's important you know your weaknesses as well as your strengths, because it's only by identifying them that you know what you need from a potential partner. You also need to identify what your values and goals are. A strategic partnership needs to be built on shared ambitions. Partnering with an organisation whose values and goals do not align with yours will spell trouble further down the line.
You then need to start meeting other company leaders. Choosing who you partner with largely comes down to gut instinct, and you need to know you will be comfortable working together and able to trust one another. Finding a connection is key. So is doing your homework first. Don't waste time meeting companies unlikely to suit, it's far better to research the track records of potential partners before you reach out to them.
Once you've reached a decision, it's time to establish some mutual goals. These need to be clearly set out and beneficial to both parties to form an equal partnership. Set out your own priorities and invite them to do the same, so you can find common ground. When both sides are honest about what they want from a partnership, it's easier to establish a route forward.
Fourthly, you need to be upfront about your own strengths and weaknesses, and they need to do the same. It's only by working out what both sides can bring to the table that you'll work out how the work should be distributed. Knowing each other's weaknesses means you can work out solutions, and knowing each other's strengths means you know how you can make best use of them.
Finally, you both need to agree on each other's roles and responsibilities. Now you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you know who is better suited to which tasks. As well as establishing how the work will be divided, you also need to ensure both sides know who is accountable when things go wrong.
And they will go wrong. No partnership is ever going to be perfect, but being able to work through problems is essential if this is to work long-term. Communication is key. You need to take a genuine interest and always be open with one another.
Know your own strengths and weaknesses
Talk to other companies
Establish mutual values and goals
Be up front about what you have to offer
Agree on roles and responsibilities