How to make the most of partnerships for long-term growth

While traditional strategies of acquisition and harnessing capital can help keep a company in the black, my personal experiences have taught me that today’s enterprises are more likely to find success in the long- term by establishing partnerships, rather than attempting to forge ahead alone.

To get the most out of partnerships there are several areas to consider. From finding your partner, to signing on the dotted line and beyond.

The success or failure of any business relationship depends heavily on how well the partnership works. Particular effort should be directed towards ensuring the right relationships are formed. Businesses need to establish precisely what they are seeking to achieve from these relationships, whether it be territory expansion, providing new services, or discovering a new route to market.

Amazon Web Services is a good example where businesses don’t have to build their own hosting infrastructure. Instead of buying, owning and maintaining their own data centres and servers, organisations can now have access to these resources and other services on an as-needed basis. As a result, businesses are freed to focus their time on other activities.

Once you have a partnership in place with defined and shared goals, it is important to foster growth and set up a rhythm of checking-in on the status of the partnership at regular intervals.

While a contract might be signed and sealed, a partnership has a lot more scope to grow if all parties involved provide feedback and share what aspects of the partnership are doing well, and where there are areas for improvement.

With this in mind, it is also worth considering partnerships built around flexible contracts. This gives both sides the opportunity for adjustment of parameters set, enabling innovation, which delivers more value out of a partnership. The benefits of such a partnership usually outweigh any disadvantage.

Whatever the size of business, and however lofty the ambition, partnerships can be strengthened and boosted by gaining executive sponsorship, as having the right support can bring experience, knowledge and authority to the forging of long-lasting partnerships.

Scratch beneath the surface of any of today’s prominent companies and you are likely to find a handful of partnerships helping fuel their success. Companies can no longer afford to work in isolation. In the ever more competitive business world, successful long-term partnerships are likely to be the difference between a company blazing a trail or fading into obscurity.

Jennifer Warawa is EVP of Partners, Accountants and Alliances at Sage.

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