Your business can’t do it all. You may want to offer all the services your customers are looking for, but that’s not the best plan for you or them. When you try to offer everything, you end up offering mediocre services you don’t love providing.
Instead of trying to offer everything, consider refining your one area of expertise and collaborating with other companies that specialize in the other services your customers need. Before I dig into how to do this successfully, I wanted to share why I think these strategic partnerships can really help your business.
Why I love business collaborations
Business collaborations are a great way to expand your business. When you partner with other companies relevant to your customers’ needs, your business broadens its potential for opportunities. In a way, your business can become a one stop shop for all of your client’s needs. Technically, you won’t be providing all of the services, but you can be the connecting link and the one who coordinates all of the magic.
By coordinating with other businesses, you can streamline the experience for your customer. For example, many businesses come to Rough Draft Solutions and ask if we design websites. We don’t. But we do write website content. Instead of saying “No, sorry, we can’t help you with web design,” I started partnering with website design companies like Klimb Creative. Now, when I get an inquiry, I can say, “Yes, I have a great web designer I partner with, and we can help you with your project from start to finish!” This approach provides your customers a more comprehensive solution and a more enjoyable experience.
Partnerships also position you to reach a wider audience. Instead of just targeting the audience you have cultivated, you now have access to your partner's audience as well.
In the last several months, my business collaborations with Klimb Creative and Cold Box Films have been immensely rewarding. These two companies have helped expand my business and have also pushed me to work harder, do better, and dream bigger. I’ve learned a lot by working with them and have thoroughly enjoyed being able to offer more comprehensive services to my clients.
These partnerships have positioned me to offer more value to my customers on a regular basis. While we are still learning how to make the most out of our partnerships, I know our customers are better for it. And to top it all off, we enjoy working together so much more than working alone!
Intrigued? If you’re thinking about collaborating with a fellow business, here are a few tips to get you started!
How to develop and maintain successful business partnerships:
Whether you are starting your business or just beginning to look for partners, the connections you make while networking offer great potential. When you meet someone who offers services that would mesh well with yours, pay attention! Think about the services your customers ask about most often.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you could benefit from partnering with event planners, videographers, and DJs. On the other hand, if you are a financial planner, your customers may appreciate if you partnered with an insurance company or a lawyer. No, not everyone you meet with a complementary business will be a good fit, but don’t hesitate to start the conversation!
Another way to build your network is to look on LinkedIn and to participate in Facebook groups. Be intentional when reaching out to other businesses. Most people want to offer their customers the best services!
All you have to do is start the conversation! You never know where unique collaboration opportunities will arise.
Things to look for in a good partner:
- Personality: Personalities matter! Don’t partner with someone just for the sake of doing it. Make sure you get to know each other before you start working together. Do you get along? (Are they kind, respectful, open minded?) Do they have any tendencies that bug you? (Always late, super picky, bossy?) How do they respond to critique or guidance? Do you feel encouraged when you spend time with them?
If this relationship does develop into a partnership, you want to make sure that you can be open with one another. No, you're not looking for a new best friend, but the goal is to surround yourself with people who are positive and add value to your life - not stress!
- Work Style: As important as personality is, a good collaboration doesn’t end there. Pay attention to their work style! Are they creative? Are they a self-starter? Do they value customer feedback?
Partner with someone whose work and services elevate what you already do, not hold you back. Pay attention to the details. - Are they organized? Are they creative? Is their process structured or free-flowing? Does their style fit with yours? While your styles don't need to be identical, they need to mesh. With a cohesive approach and clear process, you will be more likely to create quality work and enjoy the collaboration.
- Quality of Work: Before you consider partnering with a company or individual, make sure you have a clear understanding of what they do. Check out their work. Are you confident in their knowledge level and expertise?
If you end up partnering and they create something for you or your clients, their work will become reflective of your business. Also take a look at what other people are saying about them. While reviews don't tell the whole story, they shouldn't be ignored!
The more you work with a business, the more you will refine your partnership and processes. One way to kick start the process is to trade services. By doing this, you will quickly get to know each other’s style and quality of work.
Rough Draft Solutions has partnered with several companies. In many cases, we first used those companies services for Rough Draft Solutions.
As I mentioned earlier, we have partnered with Klimb Creative and Cold Box Films on several occasions. Before incorporating their services into what we offered our customers, we used their services for Rough Draft Solutions. For example, Klimb Creative has helped us with our web design and Cold Box Films has created videos for us. In return, we have provided content creation services. Not only have we directly strengthened each other’s businesses, but we have refined our processes for future clients.
Here is a video Cold Box Films created for us!
A key part of making your business collaborations profitable is to make sure people know about them! Your clients will not know you are offering a broader range of services unless you tell them. The goal is to simplify your customers’ lives. You want to eliminate the legwork of coordinating multiple service providers for them. This is a great conversation starter and may help your customers move forward with additional services.
There are several ways you can let people know you are partnering with other businesses. You can do this in blog posts, on social media, or even on podcasts. Not only does this advertise those services to your clients, but it is free publicity for both parties. Your partners can then share the post with their clients as well.
To further promote each other’s businesses and your partnership, consider writing guest posts or doing a social media takeover for each other. This is a great opportunity for you each to tap into a different pool of readers. A big benefit of this is that your partners can provide different perspectives on topics that apply to your industry. This is a fun way to switch it up and again, is free publicity for both parties!
Another way to maintain partnerships is to refer work to your partners. Don’t hold back sending work their way! (Even if you aren't going to be involved in the project.) They will likely return the favor. And the goal is that you both will have success! By taking the time to refer quality service providers to your current and potential customers, you will soon be viewed as a valued resource.
In the last few months, our partnerships have fueled Rough Draft Solution’s growth and positioned us to provide more comprehensive services to our clients. I feel more connected and supported because I am working with other business owners who I respect and appreciate. These businesses have helped me refine my services and enabled me to broaden the support I offer to my current clients. These collaborations have also enabled me to take on new clients I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
I can confidently say that these partnerships have been beneficial to everyone involved. I am excited to see where these collaborations go!
So tell me, have you ever done a partnership/collaboration? I’d love to hear how you structured it and how it worked for you! Comment below!