It’s is often stated that in business, you should look to surround yourself with people who have knowledge and talents in areas where you might not be so well versed. This is a great philosophy, and one that people running small businesses would be well advised follow.
We all have a skillset, and the combined skillset of those you employ creates the skillset for the business. Using the above philosophy internally should create a strong offering. But what about those times when you are asked to do things peripheral to that core offering? Whether you are bringing in experts like accounting, marketing or legal to help you run your business, or , accessing complementary skills that allow you to offer broader services to your clients, partnerships become a powerful tool.
But I can do that!
Sometimes an opportunity arises that requires a skill that is not central to your offering. When it does, thinking “I can do that” and looking to fulfil your clients request directly is tempting. However that can be a dangerous approach. It’s dangerous because it is likely to:
- Lead to your delivering a sub optimal solution to your client
- Create additional stress and take a disproportionate level of resource to deliver
Combine these, and whilst generating extra income, you risk negatively impacting both your reputation and your profitability.
Focus on what you are good at
I am sure I have said this before, but I make no apology for repeating myself. You should focus on your core strengths and not aim to be all things to everyone. That way you can avoid the issues outlined above.
But in focusing on your strengths, you are likely to expose gaps in your offering. Reducing your ability to offer a joined up approach for your clients. This is where partnerships are powerful. By identifying other individuals or organisations who’s core strengths plug theses gaps, you can provide a full service to clients without getting bogged down in areas where you are not so strong.
Partnerships can deliver revenue too
Its true, moving to the use of partners rather than direct delivery for these peripheral services, can impact revenues as some of the revenue that you would have earned is now going to your partners. However, it is also likely that their clients will have need for services which are at your core, and peripheral to theirs. I these instances, it would make sense for them to pass these over to you. Whilst this should never be the main reason for working with a partner (That should be their ability to deliver for your clients). It is a great bonus when it happens. And its surprising how often it does.
Three Steps to Good Partnerships
I would just like to finish with 3 steps that will point you in the right direction to working with partners
- Identify your core strengths and more importantly, the things you are asked for that are outside of this.
- On the back of this identify areas where partnerships could be valuable
- Create a process to find and develop relationships with others who are better than you in these areas
If you are into networking, this last step can really breath life into networking sessions, as it moves the focus away from Sales – Who in the room can I sell to? and onto building relationships – Who in the room could I work with to enhance my business offering and help me deliver benefit to my clients?
But that’s another post!