Building Strategic Relationships for Better Business
We were discussing the etymology of phrases in the office the other day and I learned that the phrase “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine” is over 400 years old and refers to giving an offender a light lashing in the English Navy. The person whipping the crew member tied to the ship’s mast would give a gentle punishment, just in case it was the offender was delivering the lashes to them on another occasion. In the media or movies, the phrase is often used in a negative way, but the original meaning also shows a real kindness to others. It got us thinking about building business relationships for the greater good of everyone involved, at the same time as building success.
Looking for opportunities to strategically partner can originate from your company’s books; by concentrating on areas where outgoings start to creep up, you can consider approaching the businesses that have assets or expertise you require and yours are needed by them.
For example, an accountants and solicitors could partner with each other as they will likely require each other’s services, but also clients would also benefit by having additional recommended and trusted expertise in related sector. Having new clients sent your way is one of the simplest forms of an alliance. Furthermore, the two companies could enhance profits by sharing the cost of marketing, advertising, product development and other business functions, or even cross-market or generate connected news stories.
A strategic alliance between two businesses is most often made through a cooperation agreement or other type of contract, but joint ventures can also be formed or each firm can have cross-holdings in the other. Entrepreneurs and inventors, or even those offering very specialised services, may find a successfully mutual partnership with established companies who have client contacts or engineering, manufacturing or development resources to kick-start a new product or service. They offer their technical or creative expertise in return for the capital and necessary means with which to get the idea off the ground.
Nonetheless, a strategic partnership doesn’t have to be as grand as either of those examples, it can just come down to practicality, good ethics and a handshake. This is especially true when friends own companies or are sole traders, and when people operate in a close knit community, office building or business park.
The business offerings don’t even have to be related and I call this everyday networking. For certain businesses, dropping by to other local premises to find out what they offer and to explain what you is a sure fire way of picking up an enquiry here and there; similar conversations with friends you don’t usually talk shop with can always turn up surprising results. At the opposite end of the networking spectrum, there are what are sometimes known as corporate partnerships. These are often accessible, by invitation or otherwise, to a number of businesses by a single coordinating body or business to form a group. For example, Local Chambers of Commerce fall into this category where a fee is paid and you gain access to likeminded and local businesses, education, information, networking events and marketing benefits. Adams Moore is not only a member of the Lichfield and Tamworth Chamber of Commerce, but from September we will be a Corporate Partner of Bishop Vesey Grammar School, as we are excited about the benefits.
The state Grammar school in Sutton Coldfield, which is just a short drive from our offices here in Tamworth, recently asked Adams Moore if they would like to join; just one firm from each business sector is invited join the network comprising around 35 firms. As schools now operate as any other business does, especially dealing with the dips in Government funding, searching for creative new revenue streams is crucial to provide the very best experience for the children who attend. Bishop Vesey Grammar School facilitates a forum to exchange ideas and a marketing benefit to the Corporate Partners while enriching the lives of the students. We’re delighted to be helping a local school raise funds, and we can’t wait to begin attending careers fairs, golf days and BBQs.
By thinking laterally about the benefits your business could have, whether that’s a conversation with a neighbour or contractually forming an alliance with a company in a closely related sector, it can make a difference to your turnover and bottom line.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce spending, capitalise on strategic partnerships or need advice about joint venture structures, call us to arrange a free consultation.