How To Use Strategic Partnerships To Grow Your Business
Author: Leanne Knowles
Date: December 2020
Business owners often inhibit the growth of their business unnecessarily, because they believe they don’t have the people, skills, cashflow and resources they need.
When you’ve been in business for a while and you think about the business relationships you have established over the years, there are people and businesses with complementary skills and resources and access to markets that could be very valuable to you.
In turn, it’s very likely that your business has something of value you could offer in return. With some creative thinking, and inspiring conversations, amazing things become possible.
Many business owners hesitate to seriously consider strategic partnerships for a variety of reasons. They might have been burned by a previous attempt. They might have valuable trade secrets they don’t want to share, or they simply might be uncertain about how to mitigate the risks to make it work.
It’s true there are risks involved in the creation of a Strategic Partnership. However, there are risks in any expansive endeavour. The discipline of business is building structures, strategies and processes to manage those risks effectively. There is a foundational formula for Strategic Partnerships that can be applied in any business, and I’ve outlined that formula here.
What is a Strategic Partnership?
A strategic partnership is a relationship between two commercial enterprises, usually formalized by a formal business agreement.
The partners to the agreement remain independent
They share the benefits from, risks in and control over joint actions
They make ongoing contributions in strategic areas
Strategic Partnerships enable faster growth and scale for ambitious business owners, by sharing resources, people, skills and access to markets.
There are broadly three types of agreements.
Horizontal - Competitors agree to collaborate in a way that will improve their market position and adds value for their customers.
Vertical - A business collaborates with other businesses in its supply chain, usually for a long-term commitment, for lower prices.
Intersectional - Two companies from different areas agree to share their specialised knowledge for mutual benefit.
Why Do You Need Strategic Partnership?
As you grow, you’re not only going to need more hands on deck, but you’re also going to need a whole new set of skills and experience to handle the changed environment.
The purpose of these partnerships is to enable the sharing of resources to promote faster growth for all partners – while adding new value for your customers.
Effective collaborations can provide you with everything you need, and assist you to scale more easily, with lower risk, and fewer internal resources.
8 Functional Reasons
There are a number of business functions that can be boosted with a Strategic Partnership.
Value Added Reseller
Product R&D Sharing
Cost Centre Outsourcing
Where to find Your Opportunities
People and businesses in your existing network is the best place to look first for partners.
Businesses in other industries
Start-ups in the news or in your network
Competitors who are aligned with your mission and who you can trust
Universities and other tertiary organisations
Governments - National, State and Local
Not-For-Profit - including sporting and industry associations
How To Set Up A Strategic Partnership
A successful Strategic Partnership starts with a needs analysis inside your own business that guides decision making.
The 5 key questions you’ll need to answer first…
What are your goals, and what do you need to get there?
What’s missing from your existing capabilities?
What other business could provide you with what you need - and who also shares your cultural and brand values?
What do you have to offer that would be of value to them?
How will you prepare your pitch to them? Who, what, when?
Once you find your new Strategic Partners, invest some time discussing in detail how things will work between you and create a simple agreement. Prepare your team well, and do the planning, so you can enjoy real success.
A contractual agreement has multiple benefits, the most important of which is clarity
Clarity provides both parties with greater confidence to invest in the partnership, and to take the actions that will create success
The agreement should reflect details discussions inside your own business team, along with similar discussions with your partner
What kind of businesses can use these strategies?
Almost all businesses can create powerful Strategic Partnerships to drive sustainable growth, scale and profitability.
Social Media Management
Training & Education
Sport, Tourism & Entertainment
How To Take the Next Step To Create Strategic Partnerships
When you’re looking for a way to realise your business ambitions faster, Strategic Partnerships could be the answer. Here is your readiness checklist.
Aligned with Strategy
Team briefed and ready
Clear financial and tactical agreement
3 Scalability Shortcuts
In the meantime, here’s 3 Scalability Shortcuts that includes more information about Strategic Collaboration. I have used these strategies my own business to help me expand without a huge budget and a big team. It’s yours for free and it’s an easy download, so just click on the link below and you’re on your way to the next step.
Leanne Knowles is a former professional skydiver turned Business Growth Strategist, who started two successful businesses in the adventure sport industry at 24 years old and sold them both ten years later. Leanne founded Headswitch as a marketing consultancy in January 2000, and now helps business owners in B2B and professional services to grow and scale their business using smart, simple strategies, the latest tech tools, and productive business relationships.
Leanne does this by sharing her decades of experience, hard work and research. The information and strategies are delivered primarily through online business training, private coaching programs, and The Headswitch Network, a business community dedicated to business success.
These strategies have been responsible for helping Leanne to grow and scale her own business, without the stress and overwhelm.
“In a short period of time Leanne achieved great results with respect to the management structure of our business. An excellent coach that was driven and dedicated to getting the best out of our management team. Thanks Leanne!"
- Jerry Yeghichian Director, Buxton Real Estate
“Leanne Knowles asked me once what I wanted to do with my life, and I answered, 'In a few years, I want to...'. And then she asked me, 'Why not today?'. Epic question. Epic lesson.”
- Chris Nolet Software Engineer at App
"Leanne is exceeding my expectations as a business coach week after week and I trust her partnership, dedication and commitment. "
Juanita Timpanaro Partner, The Object
"In short, my team and I feel that we could not have undertaken such an ambitious series of projects without Leanne’s professional advice and patience"
John Haines Director, LivCor
"Headswitch helped us launch our service into a new market and in the process, doubled our business in 6 months."
Sharyn Honey Lowe Director, Flaunt Marketing
"I was very impressed with the Headswitch programs delivered across multiple sites in our business. The transformation from a couple of months ago has been amazing."
Jon Ratcliffe National Franchise Manager, APCO
"Leanne understands the need for vision and is passionate about working with people to achieve personal and professional goals. "
Michael Brown Former Chief Executive, Hawthorn Football Clu
"I highly recommend Leanne as a coach - she will bring honesty, workability, clarity and integrity to the relationship, and your business will definitely flourish for it."
Helene Fuller Health and Wellbeing Coach
"Now that my business is successful and growing, I’m working with Leanne to crank up the systems and automation. It makes life easier working with someone who has done it all before."