Once you have your business more or less up and running, joint ventures (JVs) become a really important factor.
Partnerships and JVs can win you business. They can also function as a free marketing tool. If you are working with another company, they may well talk up your business because you are adding value to their offering and then more people are going to hear about you and what you do.
So how do you go about partnering and working with other companies/organisations? Well, here's an example from YES. My company offers a programme that young people can go through to learn entrepreneurial and personal development skills. The most obvious partner was the Local Education Authority. I contacted the LEA and told them about our service. Now, it recommends our programme to schools - we have got new business through doing this.
The LEA have also included a link to YES on the official website so lots of people have seen our name and clicked through to our site. The lesson: Always think about what product or service you are offering and what companies or organisations would benefit from telling other people about it.
The most important thing in your business is your customers. The constant challenge is getting customers and keeping them! Ask yourself a few questions: Where are my customers? Who are my customers? How can I get in front of them?
In the beginning it's hard to get in front of your audience but if there is an established audience for your target market, someone else is already talking to them. As long as your offering is complimentary they would surely welcome the opportunity of enhancing their own service and adding to yours.
The great thing about JVs is that you are in a 'win win' situation. They win because their product or service is improved by adding yours and you win new business at the same time. Think of obvious businesses that could benefit from having your product or service.
For me, accountants are obvious because I am targeting young entrepreneurs and they will all need an accountant or bookkeeper at some point along their business journey. So, I contacted a large firm of accountants and suggested a strategic partnership by offering them exclusivity to my customer base in return for sponsorship of network venues.
I am about to launch a new network for young entrepreneurs under 35 and I needed a venue paid for. It's not all that expensive, probably the cost of a half page ad in a magazine or newspaper but it gives the accountancy a direct route to a market they want - new businesses! This is an example of a perfect strategic partnership.
You need to expand your thinking far and wide to come up with companies that you could work with but you need to be offering something to enhance their offering too, and if they think they can also win more business by partnering with you then you have a match made in business heaven!
To the Future