Question: How do you identify strategic partners to help your business grow?
Pinpoint Your Top Competitors
"After researching your top competition, look for the ways in which you're different from each other. Doing this will help you see these people as possible collaborators, rather than competition. Harnessing the ways in which your target customers overlap can be mutually beneficial if you partner up on a project, event or other business endeavor."
"I mainly look for whether or not the value I'm able to give them will be equal to the value they're able to give me. That value will most likely come in different forms (technical expertise in exchange for access to a large network, for example), but unless both people walk away happy, it will be a waste of time and a future point of contention."
Evaluate Your Company's Strengths and Opportunities
"Lay out the strategic work flow of your company/business. Determine from this work flow what it is that your company excels at and where you have opportunity for improvement. Outsource your opportunities for improvement to the top performers in the respective industries."
Search LinkedIn Groups
"LinkedIn offers potential strategic partners through groups you're involved in -- if you're in the same group you probably share the same interests and you two may be able to solve each others' problems. If you find you and another person are often talking about similar things and have complimentary businesses, that may make for an interesting partnership."
Go for Quality and Quantity
"You won't always know in advance where your most strategic relationships will come from. Focus on making meaningful connections, but don't shy away from casting your net wide as well. You never know how someone will be able to help you (and vice versa) down the road -- so form connections with a variety of people in different fields that you admire and respect. "
"It all comes down to customers. Identify businesses that are either serving your target market, or hanging out with them or simply crossing paths with them at certain points. Make a shortlist based on how well you're connected to these potential partners and what's in it for them. Start connecting and partnering for a win-win."
Understand Your Personality and Theirs
"No matter how great the business side may be, examine the personality and temperament of a prospective partner. Explore whether their personality is a good fit with your own. At the end of the day, a strategic partner is a human being or group of human beings that you'll need to be able to work collaboratively with. "
Look at Complementary Markets
"Ask your customers what other products they are looking for and identify a partner who has those goods. You can then choose to partner with that provider to do a cross-pollination marketing campaign, or simply to mutually recommend each other to your respective clients. Chances are, if your customers need what the partner has, his customer may need what you have. "
Convince Your Competitors to Work With You
"I look to work with competitors in my industry in hopes of pooling resources like purchasing goods together to receive the best discount programs. The problem is getting them to understand that by working together, both parties can win versus the mindset that every competitor is out to get you. Joint orders alone can help you save 3-5 percent. Savings equals profit which can be re-invested to grow"
Focus on Track Records
"You can always find a way to fit the greatest people and companies into the partnerships your business needs to grow, so look first at track records before deciding whether someone is in the right industry or will be the right fit. Look for people who have already accomplished amazing things, preferably in a partnership."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.