Collaborate, Cluster, Collude
1. Find the Right Partner
In addition to looking for someone whose business can deliver what you are unable to you do by yourself you need to feel trust, empathy, respect and be able to communicate clearly with your potential partner. This will take time!
2. Clarify the Purpose
Whatever your business the motivation for entering a partnership should be of benefit to all parties ensuring a win/win outcome.
2. Identify the Value Proposition
Your motivations for entering a partnership should be to take your current resources individually and do more with them than you can each do alone, for the benefit of each and/or the customer. (1+1 = 3)
3. Do a Skills, Resources and Competencies audit.
Make sure there is true synergy between you and your partner and your respective businesses. The strengths and weaknesses of the partners should complement each other. Ie, You may have an excess of business opportunities and a shortage of resources to exploit the opportunities. If that is the case, you need a partner who supplies additional resources – not additional business opportunities.
4. Agree the Structure, and Terms of Reference
It is too easy to become enamoured with personalities, the big picture, and the excitement of building a partnering relationship. It is common to ignore attending to details.
5. Agree a Delivery Plan and Measurements
The key drivers of the business need to be identified. The value of the information needed versus the cost and other items needs to be prioritised and determine the tradeoffs.
6. Do a Risk Assessment, and Identify Contingency Plans
Over time, many things will change – the market, the competition, your direct or indirect costs, or how your partner feels about the partnership or a prospective alliance with a competitor. Expect conflicts of interest at some point.
7. Plan your Exit.
In the beginning, each partner fulfils a compelling need of the other. After a period of time they become less dependent on each other and long-term interests begin to diverge. Sooner or later, you will part ways. Those who don’t plan well are almost certain to lose from it. Only with careful attention to detail will you succeed in protecting both your interests when the time comes to dissolve the relationship
8. Formalise Agreements
This function may be best served by solicitors. It is their job to look after the many little details… details that turn around and surprise you when you least expect it. Long-term relationships have far more of these details than do single-shot transactions.