As business professionals, we’re always trying to think of ways to enhance what we deliver to our customers. However, because of the overachiever in us, we tend think we have to make these enhancements ourselves.

Fortunately, this isn’t always the case. If we’d just take a minute to look around, we’d find companies that are doing what we’d like to incorporate into our business.

Instead of reinventing the wheel—which would take time, money, and resources (not to mention, are we even sure we could build a better wheel?)—why not pursue a partnership? Business partnerships can be a great way to expand your brand’s reach and bring in like-minded companies to provide a “package deal” for your customers.

Here are the 5 Cs of business partnerships to help guide you through the process.

1. Customers.

As a business, you’re not just here to sell your customer a product; you’re here to help them solve a problem. If you find that your service offering is lacking or you see an opportunity to fill a gap in your product portfolio, take a minute to check out other companies in the market that might help you enhance what you already do.

You don’t always need to create everything from scratch. Partnerships allow you to deliver additional products and/or services that benefit your customers while allowing you to continue to concentrate on what you do best.

2. Companies.

When identifying possible partner companies, keep an open mind by looking beyond big revenue numbers. Investigate complementary companies that have a similar approach to culture, brand and vision. By selecting companies that share your same values, you will be better able to establish a common partnership goal that benefits each party.

Whether you’re trying to secure new customers or expand your brand footprint, ultimately you’re looking for a partner that’s going to have a positive impact on your business.

3. Commitment.

Before approaching possible partner companies, decide what type of commitment you are interested in. Are you looking for a short-term partner or a long-term partner? Whatever path you choose, have a rough idea of what you’d like your partnership relationship to resemble, but be careful not to force this vision on possible partners.

Remember, you’ve had a while to think about this, and they’ve just been introduced to the idea. Ease them into partnership territory by having a casual “so-what-do-you-think” conversation. If they seem interested in what you have to say, propose a trial run partnership commitment.

4. Course of action.

When securing a new partner, establish a trial run course of action plan. Items to be addressed in your plan:

  • Main business objective of the partnership.
  • Start and end date of the trial run.
  • Success metrics.
  • Profit sharing agreement.
  • Marketing or promotion commitments.

Your partnership plan will be your guide during your trial run. It will help you designate tasks and analyze results. By assigning a start and end date to your plan, both you and your partner will have the opportunity to assess the trial run and decide whether or not to stay the course or walk away at its conclusion.

5. Conclusion.

At the conclusion of your trial run partnership, schedule a meeting with your partner to review the results of your efforts. Discuss what went right, what went wrong and what could be done differently. If you decide to pursue a partnership, make sure to create a new course of action plan with start and end dates. Although these dates may now be six to nine to twelve months apart, they will allow you and your partner to continually assess your relationship and make sure that it’s the best for both of your companies.


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