In our article titled “Top 10 Financial Strategies to Help Grow Your Business”, one of the strategies discussed was the need to explore better opportunities which enables business owners to leverage on the strength, network and resources of other businesses, in order to save cost and build strong alliances that can facilitate increased growth for their business.
To proffer solutions for a larger audience, it is often necessary to share resources and seek support from other businesses in order to make an impact. For instance, banks in Nigeria today collaborate with telecommunication operators to enhance financial inclusion.
In this article, we will discuss the essentials to consider before collaborating with another organisation.
- SWOT Analysis
The first step to take before collaborating with another business is to conduct an assessment of your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to identify the gaps to be filled, the goals you want to achieve and the right partner to synergise with to attain your desired objectives.
You also need to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your potential partners to determine the partner with the capability and resources you require to bridge the gaps identified within your business. Your service offerings in return should also be those that would enable the proposed partner to improve in any areas of weaknesses identified while serving as an opportunity for them to increase their bottom line.
- Value Proposition
Collaboration is two way and is often about giving to receive. Thus, before you reach out to a prospective partner, it is necessary to properly articulate your vision and value proposition and ensure it is one that would interest your partner. You should also be clear about the benefits you seek and what your potential partner will gain from working with you to appropriately align your expectations with that of your business partner.
- Track Record And Reputation
In considering another business to collaborate with, it is important to review the achievements of your potential business partner, to appraise their experience and ability to consistently deliver value. Most businesses have reviews, testimonials, achievements or milestones documented on their websites or in their profiles which you should not ignore. This is because it helps gauge what others say about the business.
Beyond transactional benefits, the reputation and network of a business partner is one that should also be assessed before partnering, since it is important to continually add value at a relationship level and not just on a product level. Obtaining independent opinion about the organization would be beneficial in helping you identify red flags if any. You can start with a simple online background check or reach out to industry players or members of business communities with the sector of interest, who are likely to have things to say about the business. It is important to look towards working with companies who offer the same level of service and quality reputation as yours to ensure it is a successful partnership.
- Your Shared Objectives & Values
As mentioned earlier, it is important to have clear goals before signing any Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate with any organization. The more clarity you have around what you want to achieve, the more successful the partnership will be. You should also not assume that you know what the other company’s values are; make effort to articulate your common vision, values and work ethics. There must be a genuine mutual interest in seeing that your collaboration efforts thrive, and then other things can fall in place.
Just like every other goal set, your collaboration goals should be SMART. This implies that they must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. In addition, you should ensure they are documented to guarantee that both organizations are committed to the achievement of these objectives.
Before finalizing a partnership initiative, don’t be afraid to do a trial run to determine if your selected partner is the best fit that can enable you to attain the results you desire. Before going on a journey for a year or more, trying the working relationship for a shorter period would go a long way in helping to shape the performance you desire in the long run. This also enables you to appraise the collaboration efforts to determine if it is truly mutually beneficial and the areas of improvements required where necessary.
Depending on the nature of the collaboration you seek, the process of getting the right fit for your business could be quite overwhelming. Regardless, it is important to do an in-depth assessment and have clear objectives which help you define the roles and responsibilities of all parties before proceeding.
Collaboration is essential in strengthening the weaker aspects of your business, so you can grow and expand in a way that could have been impossible if you had to do it on your own. This is because there is strength in numbers and greater success is often achieved when you work together. As you embark on your small business collaboration initiatives, ensure it is structured and in alignment with the vision for your organization. Also, track the plan and ensure everyone is committed and accountable for both the successes and shortfalls.