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You were convinced that when you built it, they would come. You knew in your gut that what your product offered was exactly what the market needed and that, once you launched, people would flock to you in droves. But when you opened your doors, either literally or online, all you heard was the sound of crickets.
You might have the best product around that no one has ever heard of. Or the few folks that who have heard of it just don’t know where to find you. This is one of the problems I run into most with entrepreneurs. It occurs because of wishful thinking (I know people will come!), too little money to spend on marketing, or no workable strategy for driving traffic in the company’s direction.
A common mistake young entrepreneurs make is assuming their business is doomed. But, as I’ve told a number of clients who find themselves in this situation, their business isn’t doomed. What they need are partners. Not business partners, but partnerships with other businesses that have a similar customer profile.
In nearly all the companies I’ve been involved with, a key to the successful distribution of our products and services has been the partnerships we established early on. By hitching your wagon to a bigger, more established business, you can get a lot further, faster, and with much less money out of pocket than by traveling the road alone. I’ve helped businesses grow from ideas to big brands, all on the basis of sound partnering.
Here are six steps to help you prepare for and find a solid partnership.
Build a Good Business
A big partner will not make your business better. It will expose your flaws faster. You need to stand on your own two feet. Focus on building a great product first before finding a partner who can help you gain more exposure.
Calibrate Your Needs
Before finding a partner, first determine what you want from a partnership. Are you looking for capital, resources, technology, marketing, distribution, or sales support? This will greatly influence how you approach a potential partner.
Understand Their Needs
Someone isn’t going to partner with you without getting something in return. It’s business. Think about what problem you can solve for your partner. How can you make your internal champion look like a hero?
Sell What They Need
Focus the conversation on addressing your potential partner’s needs rather than what you think is cool about your product. You want them to understand how they can benefit from the partnership.
Talk to as many potential partners as possible to be sure you find the right one. Different partners will offer different resources. You want to make sure your partner is offering exactly what you need and that you can deliver what you have promised them.
Find an Internal Champion
Because smaller companies and new initiatives can get lost in the shuffle, you need an internal champion in the business you’re partnering with to take ownership of your project and drive it internally. As an entrepreneur CEO, make sure you maintain a strong relationship with this individual.
By following these six steps, you can identify how a partner can benefit your business, which potential partners to approach, and how you can convince them to enter a mutually beneficial arrangement.