Companies like us have niche services, great people, precious clients, and survive comfortably. But to expand our services, expand into newer geographies and expand our client base we need not run looking for VCs. A good partnership can be like a good life partner who can propel each other to greater heights. Some points to remember about partnerships:
Before you get into one!
1. If you want a partnership in the same region, look for companies that offer complementary skills. This strengthens both without worrying about the dark clouds of competition. Helps pool marketing resources, pool network, and basically emerge stronger.
2. For partnerships across geographies, look for companies that have similar philosophies and work culture. Also, watch out for their history of growth, types of clients, and skill level of people. The key here is to work together for a while and load test each other's idiosyncrasies!
3. For partnerships with support companies, check out the team size, team skills, and their commitment levels. If you have to depend on the support team for client deliveries, it is critical for them to appreciate quality and deadline as much and you do.
After you are one!
4. Set clear communication channels between the partnering companies. There is nothing worse than a relationship going sour due to miscommunication or no communication. Talk, talk , and talk. Believe me, I've learned the hard way! Eliminate all barriers in communication, remove complex channels, pick up phones or take a flight, but never let the threads of communication to fray ever.
5. Mutual respect - There is no place for egos in a partnership. And believe me most entrepreneurs are so used to making their own decisions that they have a tough time listening to another entrepreneur about how to run his business. But, leave your ballooning egos behind. Remember, its not just your business, its our business now. Respect each others' skills, expertise, opinions, and ideas. Honor each others' clients and client commitments. Share responsibilities.
6. Be it joint ventures, partnerships, or collaborations - all relationships need to be nurtured. They cannot mature overnight, so give it time, patience, thought, and attention. Offer as much support as you can. Understand the quirks, appreciate the differences, and celebrate the togetherness. Yes, I may sound like a marriage counselor :) but I believe all relationships (more for a company-company relationship) need to be handled with care and sensitivity!
In the fast and furious era of change where your business vision gets redefined every 4 months, it is impossible to grow in an island. So, all you entrepreneurs, Partner or Perish!