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.

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