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3 Steps to Partnerships

INTRO

So you’ve started your team and you realize now that you’ve got some challenges you can’t overcome by yourself. You find that you need to reach out to some third party companies to create partnerships with to accomplish the needs and goals you have currently. How do you do that with very little to no budget?

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

You and your team have been working on figuring out what big problems your company needs you to solve and you find out that there’s a high-value solution that you guys can build. You also find that it’s going to take more work than what your team has available in terms of resource, hardware, software, or services. Because of this, you need to reach out to a third party company, maybe a few of them over time, to get their help on certain things you need to solve. Let’s say you need a hardware solution right now for conversation sake. Let’s say you’re looking for a new VR headset for your team to demonstrate a virtual reality solution. Perhaps on a tight budget, a limited budget, or have no budget at all. That’s totally fine. Even if you do have a budget, you want to prove to your boss that you know how to run an organization without spending too much money. Due to this, you want to go get a good deal or maybe you want to work together with another company without paying for their services at all. How do you do all of this?

There are three steps to forming a relationship with a third party company in a way where you can minimize your budget and your expenses.

  1. First, you want to start with a list, and this list is going to contain all of your current needs, all your current wants, and they’re going to be sorted by priority. So go ahead, take out a piece of paper and write out the things that you have going on right now. All of your responsibilities, all of your needs and wants, then prioritize those.
  2. Step two. Get another piece of paper and write down a list of all of the companies you can think of that match on the service, software, and/or hardware that can provide solutions for those needs you have currently.

So, you should have now two lists. One list contains your current needs and responsibilities sorted by priority, and list two is a list of all of the companies that you can think of partnering with that might be able to provide those services, that hardware, or the software you need to solve those problems on list number one.

    1. The third step is actually reaching out to these companies in a way where you can create a very healthy and positive relationship/partnership with them.

PARTNERSHIPS = VALUE OVER DOLLARS

Before you get started, you’re going to try to minimize your budget by finding ways that you can produce value for them before asking for anything in return. Ways that you put produce value for them might follow the ideas of:

  • doing some networking together;
  • or marketing or advertising together somehow.
  • Try bringing them in on the project that you’re working on and allowing them to receive some of the benefit or some of the rewards of putting together the solution with you.
  • You might be able to advertise on this solution together, or maybe you can market it together saying, “Hey, we worked on this together and we’re solving these really big problems that a lot of people are facing currently.
  • There could be a way for you to share resource between your teams.
  • Perhaps you can loan a few of your developers, designers, or user experience people to their needs or their wants – things that they’re having challenges with currently.

You’ve got to find a way that you can balance the value that’s being given and received between the two companies, between the people in the relationship.

Wright out, on a piece paper, all of the things that you think that you can do to produce value for this other company, right now we’re looking at hardware specifically.

 

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BE CREATIVE IN YOUR SELECTION

Now, I’ll pause here for just a second because a lot of people are going to think that they first need to touch bases with a hardware company and that may not always be the case. What if you could reach out to a software or a service company that already owns the piece of hardware you need? Maybe the hardware that you’re looking for just needs to be used for a short time while you show stakeholders a proof of concept. That’s a good opportunity to partner with non-hardware companies to get the hardware you need temporarily.

In this case, you can trade very little value, and they can allow you to use a headset they already have for a short period of time. You can then, spend time proving to your stakeholders that the value you’re creating with your software is going to fit for the context and is going to resolve the problem at hand. Bottom-line is that you’re going to prove that you are producing value for the company.

You’ve got to balance between how much you need from this third party company, this partnership, and how much you can afford to offer them for what they are giving you in return.

3 TIERS TO REFINE YOUR MESSAGE

So there are three different groups of companies that you can work with on this project. You’ve got your set of first choice companies which might be big, well-known names, companies that you admire or respect. Then there’s your second choice, which might be not so well-known companies. Maybe they’re medium sized. Maybe they’re still large, but for one reason or another, they fall into this second choice category for you. And finally, there are smaller companies, most likely, that might being your third choice.

My suggestion is to take the value proposition that you’ve written up and take it, first, to those people who are your third choice category and build a relationship with them. Test out, on them, the different value proposition items you have come up with. This gives you the opportunity to refine your message, you can bounce these ideas off of them to find out what really does produce the value that they’re looking for.

You then could move on to your second choice and do the same bouncing and refining there as well. Once you have that message fully refined and the value worked out, you’ve got a couple of really great relationships with these level two and level three choice. Finally, move to your first choice company. You’ve got everything refined, you understand what’s going to produce value. Bring your offer to them, your first choice company, and create a relationship with them. Find ways to tell them about the value that you want to produce for them, and then allow them to give you some feedback and build the relationship from there.

HAVE A FALL-BACK

Eventually, you will get to the point where you’re able to give and receive value with them and have a good relationship. Now, one of the great things about having the relationship that you did with your second and third choice companies from the beginning, is that you now have a fall-back. So let’s say your first choice company is too busy or is uninterested, totally real and acceptable. You can fall back to your second or third choice companies and you already have everything ready to go. Another benefit of having that second and third choice company already set up, is when you go to your first choice company, you can let them know that you’ve already talked to a few companies who are very interested in working together with you on this, but be honest with them – tell them that they are your first choice and that you really want to work together with them over the others. Clearly inform them that your preference is to work together with them specifically, if at all possible. Keep in the back of your mind that you’ve got other options if this, for some reason, doesn’t work out.

WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

So those are the three ways that you start partnerships with third-party companies.

  1. Step one, create a list of your needs and your wants – prioritize them.
  2. Step two, list out all of the companies that can provide that solution for you.
  3. And finally, step three, go ahead and reach out to them: your first, second, and third choice companies.

If you’re partnering in a different way, I want to hear from you. I want to find out what you’re doing to create relationships and partnerships with third party companies. And maybe if you can even share some of the reasons why as well as some of the ways that you’ve been successful with that, it should prove helpful to other people who are listening here as well.

Until next time, no regrets.

 

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