3 Keys To A Win-Win External Partnership

by | Jun 23, 2021

3 Keys To A Win-Win External Partnership

External partnerships are how smart businesses fill in gaps. After all, most businesses – no matter what size – can’t do everything internally (even Apple & IBM have partnered on projects). You may reach out to another business for things like:

  • Supply, production or delivery of products (raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution etc.) 
  • Outsourcing specialized work (web development, marketing, virtual assistant etc.)

A collaboration presents the perfect solution when two (or more) businesses can come together to provide what the other requires, while playing on each other’s strengths and potentially saving costs and time. But trusting aspects of your business to an external partner that you don’t completely control means things can get out of control fast. 

So we’ve put together this guide to help you confidently find and maintain a win-win partnership.


Determine where and how a partnership can help


As your business grows and you gradually take your hands off the controls, it gives you space to take a birds-eye view of your operation. Here’s where you’ll be able to clearly identify which areas need support. 

This is, of course, after you come to terms with the fact that, as you grow, you can’t do everything. To be honest, you shouldn’t aim to anyway. As the visionary, your focus and energy needs to stay on driving your business forward by whatever means necessary. 

Time to look for an external partnership which can balance out what you need and who you can be of service to in return.

Here are 3 keys to creating a win-win external partnership for your business:


1. Be selective with your partnerships

Today’s entrepreneurial landscape has largely adopted a “collaboration over competition” mindset – which is a good thing. However, it means you’ll likely get many offers to partner – many of which may or may not present a balanced scenario. 

Both sides need to be completely OK with:

  • Relinquishing some control
  • Flexibility to adapt to change
  • Working with members of an outside team
  • Sharing certain information
  • Teaching and learning
  • Trust
  • Respect

Do your due diligence to make sure you select the partners who best fit your needs and with whom you can hold up your end of the bargain.  


2. Establishing a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Not just for customers – an SLA is the best way to make sure each side in a biz-to-biz partnership clearly knows what is expected of each other. SLA’s come in various forms, but generally include:

  • Overview of the partnership
  • Objectives for each partner
  • Requirements of each partner
  • Personnel/Command Structure
  • Compensation (if objectives aren’t met)
  • Termination policy

The more detail you can include in your SLA, the less chance for things within your partnership going awry. 


3. Developing Performance Reports

Regularly review the objectives outlined in your SLA to identify whether your partnership is working or if things need to be addressed. 

Reviews should be scheduled weekly/monthly/quarterly, depending on the conditions of the partnership.


Take your hands off the wheel but keep your eyes on the road

While an external partnership allows for excellent growth potential, it’s not without risks. While you’ll need to concede some control of your own business to an outsider, it’s important to maintain full control about what it is they’re providing, ensuring it’s in line with expectations.

If you want to go far, go together

These 3 keys will help all partnerships get the most out of the collaboration. As the proverb goes: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. 

At Cove Enterprise Hub, we’re specialists in helping entrepreneurs create successful partnerships. Click here to book a FREE 30 minute call with us to discover how we can help you find the right type of partner to take your business to the next level.