Successful businesses are built on collaborations; functional collaborations. No business can survive without establishing and developing powerful relationships with like-minded business owners. Even the most marketable products and services need outside forces and influences to reach their target market and achieve optimum sales results.
However, there is a method to developing effective collaborations. You simply cannot connect, partner and venture into business with any business. Whether you are a solopreneur or have a small staff, your ability to effectively create collaborations is crucial to your business success. You need to know who to connect with, what value you each bring to the table, what are the terms and how will you keep the communication lines open.
Here are 5 ways to ensure your collaborations are effective and meaningful:
1. Power partner: Select business owners who have products or services that compliment yours and have the client base you are looking for. Their mindset, motivations, visions and business practices should also be compatible with yours. Don’t be afraid to approach someone who is already at your next level. If your product or service is strong enough, it could be an opportunity for you to expand.
2. Determine the value and incentives: Know what you can and can’t bring to the table. Know what is expected of you and what you expect of your partner(s). Determine the benefits of the collaboration and are they aligned with your values. Never sacrifice the integrity of your business for a sale.
3. Spell it out in black and white: Collaborations really should be in writing. Having your terms and agreement in writing will help eliminate any misunderstandings or miscommunications. Knowing who is responsible for what will set the boundaries of your relationship.
4. Client sharing and management (follow-up): You want to expand your client base while maintaining your identity. Remain separate, but equal. How are referrals handled? What is the process for contacting referrals? Is there a referral fee involved? It’s okay to share client databases; but be sure you have an established follow-up system for handling each other’s clients. Your clients should receive and expect the same quality and level of service from your partner.
5. Communication: Be sure to schedule regular meetings to review your collaborative relationships, make necessary adjustments and outline growth strategies.
It’s important to remember that in collaborations, your partner’s success depends on your success and vice versa. Having a formal collaborative partnership could make all the difference for your business. No business owner is an island. Savvy business owners and entrepreneurs know when to ask for help and know how to leverage their product or services.
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A.Michelle Blakeley is the Founder and CEO of Simplicity, Inc.; a progressive small business development firm. She manages her clients’ business expectations and prevents information overload via Micro Business Therapy™ and Micro Business Action Plans. She is featured in Forbes.com and Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter and the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on BlogTalkRadio.com.