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In his interview, Marcus Stripf talks of the enormous role and essential value that partnerships have played in growing his company, Spoon Guru.

If you are considering a partnership, never start by thinking about what you can get out of this. Partnerships, by their very definition, are not about one side benefiting at the expense of the other. Start instead by asking yourself what you have to offer another company.

Partnerships are not relationships not to be rushed into. Good or bad, they could have a massive effect on your business. The good ones can help you grow and thrive, but to achieve that, you will need an excellent partnership strategy. That starts with your stakeholders being sold on the idea of being in partnerships.

People are suspicious of change and can feel threatened. Ensure that all your team can see all the advantages of having partnerships could bring and are converted to the idea. Everyone must be enthused about the prospect. New partners are going to want to get a feel of your business, and they will want to work with people who are excited about working with them.

It can be a challenge for new businesses to get partnerships. There are some companies that specialize in linking the two sides, but you can also learn to do the hard graft yourself. But take care. It is not about winning any partnership, but the right one.

The first thing to look for in a prospective partnership deal is that they need to have similar customers but not be in direct competition. A great source of suggestions can be your existing customers. You can ask them which companies they deal with, which are within the same market. The great thing about this approach is that there are also higher chances of them recommending companies you will feel comfortable with.

The next stage is research. Find out if your prospects have partnerships now. Are they open to more work? A company that is stacked out with work for the next year is not likely to be interested. Continually remind yourself that this is about creating a strategic alliance that benefits both. Think through what they could bring you, and you could bring them.

If you can avoid it, don’t go the cold call route. Remember, a good prospect will have a great many people who approach them. Put yourself into sales mode and think about how you can stand out from the crowd. Think of original ways to get to know them via introductions, getting to know them without overt selling.

Getting to know them like this has another advantage. Partnerships are relationships, and you are going to need to get along exceptionally well. You will need to be able to communicate well, in good times and bad, and have a shared vision and similar values.

When you do put forward a proposal, be clear that you completely understand what a great partner is. It isn’t just a case of saying we are partners and sitting back and hoping the advantages will roll in. You are going to need to come up with some inspired ideas about what you are going to bring to the table. These might include giving free advice to their customers, get-togethers where they can meet your customers, linking digital activity. The more thought, the more original, the more attractive you will be. View it as a sales activity. If you are to be considered, an understanding of their needs is essential.

A good proposal lays out precisely the expectations on both sides and the mutual advantages. It will need to become a proper legal arrangement but should be kept very clear and very simple. Things to consider are the length of time agreed, any costs and if anyone has exclusive rights if finance is involved at all.

You will need to review your strategy and your performance continually. But in maintaining a healthy and profitable relationship, shouting about your partners on social media, and telling their stories on your partners’ page, you will not only get the best out of the current partnership but also turn them into your best advocates for future ones.

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