The Power of Partnerships
Our last blog focused on the value of practicing transparency. Now that we’ve got you totally comfortable with sharing your ideas with others, it’s time to think about why you are sharing them. Most of the time the first thing that comes to mind will be the people who can help fund your business, whether that is through buying your product or investing in it. That’s not a bad instinct to have. But this time we are going to focus on a different group: peers and colleagues who could be potential partners.
Sharing your work with peers can feel counterintuitive. Why open up your secrets to potential competition? Many of us, especially entrepreneurs, have a tendency to try and do everything ourselves. As a business owner, after all, you have to be able to sell, manage, administrate, and create. You get used to being a Jack-of-all-trades, a one-man band. The idea of reaching out to others just doesn’t seem necessary.
There is, of course, another potential challenge: funding. The more people you involve in a project, the smaller your slice of the pie. Or, at least, that’s the fear. But in reality, trying to do everything alone often means the difference between a smaller slice of pie, or no pie at all. Furthermore, the more robust your team is, the more likely you are to get that big game-changing project. If that isn’t enough to convince you, then here’s one last thought to leave you with: when you work with other people you do more of what you like to do and more of what you are really good at.
Small businesses often struggle because they are so desperate to stay afloat that they will try to adapt their product into models that may not be exactly right for them. There is a difference between diversifying your offerings and stretching beyond the scope of what is really appropriate for you and your skillset. But when you start to open up your network and find partners who can broaden those skills and services you will find that you end up with more clients, more funding, and more time spent doing the thing that led you to start your own business in the first place.
The key is to find the partners who complement your business offerings. Do that by examining your clients and their needs. What are their biggest challenges? Which of those can you address? Are you addressing them fully or are there still gaps? Are there related issues that are outside of the purview of your work but that are going to impact the potential success of your efforts?
Another way to think about this is to consider your clients’ business and try to put it on a timeline. Where and when do you come in? What is going on directly before they call you, and what is happening right after?
Both you and the other service providers have so much to gain from bundling your services. Not only can you partner on large projects, you can provide referrals and references for each other. If they are the person who interacts with the client after you, they have every reason to want that client to be set up for success. And if they are going to be handing that client off to you, they have no incentive to want the impact of their efforts to be diminished by a subsequent failure or challenge. Understanding where you are in this narrative will not only give you a better sense of how to provide the best service to your clients, it will also help you to find the partners and resources you need to win more of the work you love to do.