Owning a business can be a lonely career path – you don’t have traditional colleagues or coworkers, you aren’t going to happy hours with your team and you don’t always have someone you can lean on for support. Mentors can make a big difference in that journey, but in this post we want to talk about another approach – developing partnerships.
Strong partnerships – from referral partnerships to promotional partnerships to actual supply and service partnerships – can truly mean the difference between succeeding alongside another entrepreneur and struggling in your own corner. Before we get started, we want to take a minute to mention that, as Growth Coaches, partnerships are an integral part of our own business journey. Our clients trust us to help them along the path of business growth and personal development. Partnerships are vital to the work we do in communities around the world.
So, when it comes to industry partners, take a look around your community, both locally and within your industry. Who you can develop relationships with to help you both grow your businesses together? For example, if you own a restaurant and you meet another entrepreneur who runs a farmer’s market, is there a way you can work together so that both of your businesses can benefit? Of course you can buy your produce from the farmer’s market, but how can you work together to make sure all boats rise together?
To get started, consider the best ways to develop partnerships in your community and industry. In most situations, it doesn’t make sense to show up on someone’s doorstep with a proposal you created in a vacuum. Does meeting up at networking events make the most sense? Can you approach the potential partners directly in a email? Do you have a shared colleague or friend? Does it start with a LinkedIn connection? Whatever the best way to approach a potential partner might be, it’s important to be clear about your intentions and to outline the potential overall benefits for your business and for their business. Like in any relationship, trust has to be earned and built. It will take time and effort.
Once you have someone’s interest in a partnership, the next step is to create a strategic plan that benefits both parties equally. Sometimes it makes sense to do a brainstorming session over lunch or coffee. Making sure that both partners are getting the full benefit of the partnership is key to keeping everyone satisfied and moving forward. Perhaps your partnership is promotional? Maybe you buy your produce at the local shop and put their logo in your menu and, in return, they include your logo in their advertising and sell gift cards to your restaurant at their store. Maybe it’s a product trade at a reduced rate? Perhaps it could be a direct referral agreement?
If you’re unable to get something started, that’s OK. Not every approach works out and there are typically other options in the marketplace. Our advice is to look for potential partners who are at your level. If you own a small restaurant, it will be significantly harder to break into Whole Foods than the local grocer. The key is that, by working together, you can grow together.
If you could use help creating these kinds of partnerships and developing strategic plans that align your goals, your local Growth Coach can help: https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.