• How to Form Profitable Business Partnerships

How to Form Profitable Business Partnerships

A well-thought-out partnership can take a company to new heights. Think of Spotify, Hulu, and Netflix. All were already household names across the country, yet, their clever partnerships have raked in thousands of new users for these companies. Read on to learn about how you can also enjoy the advantages of a lucrative business partnership, even as a small business owner.

If you’re thinking of teaming up with another business, there are 9 essential questions you must ask. They’re critical to your success and they fall into three categories—identifying potential partners, forming agreements, and maintaining partnerships.


How to Form Profitable Business Partnerships

Pinpointing Possible Partners

If you’re thorough in your assessment of possible candidates, you’ll be much more likely to end up with a mutually-beneficial partnership. Here are three questions you should ask at this stage of forming business partnerships:

1. Does this company align with my business?

Things to consider when asking this question: your industry, target market, core values, greatest motivators, mission, brand personality, and so on.

Of course, your partners shouldn’t be too similar to you. If they are, they’re probably competitors of yours, which isn’t good. Yet, you do need to find a compatible professional or business that will complement your brand and your brand, theirs.

2. Could we develop one cohesive mission or vision?

In other words, what would be the purpose of your collaboration? If you can sum this up concisely and in a way that makes sense for both brands, there’s the potential for great things.

Nike and Apple are an excellent example of this. For years, they’ve been working together to provide fitness tracking technology. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, said during an interview: “We remain committed to digital connections with consumers, not only in tracking and sensing through partner relationships, but also the complete digital ecosystem.” That’s there cohesive mission in a nutshell.

3. What are my strengths and weaknesses?

Going back to you and your potential partners, here’s how to formulate your vision. Do you excel at product development but struggle with marketing and sales? Is your team of strategy experts one of the most experienced anywhere around? Do you find it tricky or frustrating to manage finances properly?

Whatever your strengths and limitations, you’ll want a partner that can support you and who you can support.

Forming Partnerships

Once you’ve zeroed in on one that you think would make a great partner, it’s time to go about making a deal that will benefit you both in the long run.

1. What do they want, need or expect from our partnership?

This question deserves careful attention. In fact, it’s so important that it should actually be considered more than once. Before you ever propose a deal, you should already have an idea of the answer. This will help you create an enticing offer or save you from wasting time and risking your reputation on something that won’t work.

What about after you reach out to the professional or business you’re interested in? You should have an honest talk about needs, wants, and expectations. In addition to finding out these things from the other party, you’ll also want to clearly state what you hope to gain.

There will be less chance of misunderstandings and disappointment, which could result in a messy end to your relationship.

2. What are our collective goals? How will we reach them?

You should answer this question from two perspectives. What are you coming together to provide to consumers? What should come from your working together? Once you have these goals outlined and in writing, you should formulate an action plan.

3. Who will be doing what?

This goes right along the last question about reaching the goals you’ve set. In addition to planning the methods you’ll use, you also need to determine who’s in the best position to execute them.

Let’s revisit the example of Spotify and Hulu. They’re a great example of clearly defining roles. Spotify handles the billing for both services, presumably because they have better capabilities in that area. In the same way, you should consider strengths when delegating necessary tasks.

Taking it even further, you should also agree on accountability. Outlining this before you agree to a binding deal ensures that everyone knows their role and everything is done according to plan.

Maintaining Profitable Partnerships

After the agreement is made, here’s what to ask to make sure things go well and will keep heading in the right direction.

Did the initial deal live up to expectations? Was I able to deliver on my promise(s)?

When you first approached your now-partner to propose a collaboration, what did you offer? Have you been able to hold up your end of the deal? Or has your partnership fallen short in some way?

If there has been any disappointment, on their end or yours, take a step back and think. Can adjustments be made? Or should you continue working together at all?

Are there new needs or expectations?

As businesses grow and change, it’s only natural that needs and wants change too. Evaluate this periodically and openly discuss how you can support and accommodate one another. This is one of the keys to a long-lasting, profitable relationship.

Are there opportunities to expand and reach new goals?

If you’ve created a great team, don’t just settle for the current state of things. Keep on the lookout for opportunities to do even greater things.

Whenever new goals are set, ask all applicable questions again for an updated perspective. Doing this work every step of the way will help you form successful partnerships, giving you various advantages over your competition!


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Nia Gyant
Nia Gyant
Nia Gyant is passionate about helping small business owners create and execute solid marketing strategies, and writes blogs with a particular focus on inbound marketing and branding.

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