To Partner or Not to Partner?

Follow these 5 steps to make your decision easier

Business Owners:  How to prepare for a partnership

Thinking of adding a business partner to expand your small business?

What steps will you take to make this important decision? 

Strong research skills are vital to getting the results you want: 

1) a partner that helps you grow your business and

2) a partner that matches your small business’ & customers’ needs  

 5 Research Steps for a Successful Partnership:

Step 1    Do your due diligence

Investigate the potential partner thoroughly before creating a partnership agreement

  • What is their brand?  What do they stand for? See my post on Brand Strategy for easy to follow fill in the blank sections.
  • Who are their target markets? Competitors? Suppliers?  See my post on target marketing for more detail.
  • What are the parameters of their business: products, geographic, online/offline?
  • What are their financials:  check general public knowledge before you request company access?
  • Where is their marketing strategy?  Traditional, Trade, Direct Marketing, Social Media, Public Relations
  • Complete a full SWOT analysis:  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats 

Bonus: Here are a few free SWOT templates from Smart Sheet,Business News Daily and Creatly (powerpoint ready).

Step 2 Your turn

Answer the above questions about your own business as if you were an outsider

Step 3 Compare Step 1 & 2

Create a side by side chart for each area.  Use a large white board or multiple poster boards or if you prefer project management software or Excel spreadsheets. 

  • Where are the inconsistencies or differences?  
  • Is the potential partner filling gaps in your portfolio or markets or adding more?
  • Are the differences deal breakers or a solution waiting to happen?

Step 4  Think beyond the initial partnership

Consider how your business will grow

  • Where will the partnership be in a year? 3 years? 5 years?
  • What terms must be included to mitigate risk for both parties?
  • How will the partnership impact the overall market for your business?
  • What changes are you willing to make to make the partnership work?
  • Financials, financials, financials….

Step 5 Gut check

How do you feel about this partnership? 

  • Is it right for your business?
  • Is the timing right for your business?  

Protect the business you created.

Take time to do thorough research before jumping into a new partnership.  

Start your research and get excited about the opportunities to grow your business.

Heather H. Bennett is a marketing strategist, personal brand coach, and author of Fun and Fulfilling Careers One Question at a Time. Heather lives and works in Chicago, Illinois and is passionate about helping businesses and professionals build strong brands to connect with their target market and reach their personal and professional goals.  

Find Heather via Twitter @creativebrandch &

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