The Red Flags You Need to Watch Out for that Tell You a Partnership Is Not Going Well

The Red Flags You Need to Watch Out for that Tell You a Partnership Is Not Going Well

Walking into a strategic partnership, one feels a mix of emotions—hope, excitement, and often, a healthy dose of caution. Will the alliance be fruitful or a waste of time and energy? Worse, will your business get the short end of the stick or be taken advantage of? This is a very real concern, particularly for small businesses entering into a partnership with a larger corporation.

When in a strategic partnership, be extremely aware of the following red flags. If you see one of these warning signs, no matter how much your business may potentially benefit from the alliance, you may be better off walking away.

Too Good to Be True

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for partners who seem to offer you the world, especially if you don’t have much to provide in return. If, for example, a business promises you amazing advantages, such as access to their market, suppliers, and professional resources, yet they’re only getting, say, a positive marketing boost from your brand’s reputation, proceed with caution. There may be an advantage only they are aware of, but you were never willing to give.

As American businessman and chairman of AXS TV Mark Cuban has said, “Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it’s you.” Not every large corporation intends to take advantage of their smaller strategic partners. But, it does happen. Watching out for this warning sign is a great way to prevent it from happening to you. When a partnership just isn’t making sense, take a second look at your contract and definitely have a lawyer or other experienced, independent professionals look over the details.

Avoidance of Getting Key Points in Writing

When you watch Partner2Grow’s recent Strategic Partnerships Expert Panel webinar, you can hear an important cautionary tale on this “too good to be true” scenario, as well as another crucial red flag. During the negotiating process, it’s important to pay attention to how your partner communicates the agreement just as much as what they communicate.

Janine Zappini, one of our esteemed guests in the webinar and the Co-Founder of Simply Raw, a line of organic, raw superfood products, spent years building up her small business. She and her husband started out preparing their products by hand out of their Bondi Beach kitchen and selling them to local food markets. Committed to making truly healthy, tasty snacks through Simply Raw, Zappini was able to bring her product to the wider Australian market a year later. Soon after, she secured a partnership with a major player in the Australian food industry, something Zappini herself describes in the webinar as having felt, “too good to be true.”

The partnership process began relatively smoothly. She and her contacts with the company ensured their values were aligned and expectations were crystal clear. But, every time the issue of business IP arose, the company expected Zappini to share her information—which she did—but the other company avoided putting the IP agreement details on paper and never gave her their information. Instead, conversations took place over the phone, creating the impression that both parties had an understanding. The company had Simply Raw’s recipes, production processes, even the database.

After a year of negotiations, this food company, without informing Zappini, released a carbon copy of her product and began targeting her market and her distributors.

Key points like intellectual property need to be in writing. It’s important to understand that what you agree upon over coffee and a handshake is not legally binding, nor will it protect your interests. If a strategic partner is contract-shy over some issues, definitely take a second look at what type of relationship you may truly be entering into.

Your Values Aren’t Fully Aligned

The idea of forming a partnership is often inspired by mutual interests. While creating a win-win situation is a core foundation of creating a successful relationship, it’s also essential that your values are aligned. Think Christian Dior Fusion Sneakers and concept store Colette—the fashion brand’s relationship with a trendy French cult shop was a genius move in the right direction for both companies. But also, the companies are matched in terms of values, both prioritising pushing the boundaries of culture and style.

Financial Stability Isn’t Clear

It is vital that the business you are in partnership with is financially sound. Your partner should be comfortable discussing their finances with you as both of you need to know the other is stable and risk-tolerant. Angel investor and CEO of e-Healthcare Solutions RJ Lewis cautions, “Any time there is equity involved, treat it as though you are getting married.” Once you enter into a strategic partnership, your business’ finances are, to some extent, tied to theirs. If your partner contact isn’t willing to explain and provide relevant documents to demonstrate their financial situation, it may be a good idea to do some of your own research. If they keep on giving mixed signals and refuse to divulge relevant information about their financial standing, then it would be better to consider having “the talk” involving your future plans or if it’s worth it to continue.

Questionable Communications

Communication is essential for any relationship, whether between two people or two businesses. While any communication issue that makes you feel uncomfortable is a possible red flag, there are two you should look out for. If a partner doesn’t respond right away to your emails and phone calls, this may be a sign there is something wrong or that you simply aren’t a priority.

Any inconsistencies in what a partner tells you, such as if stories change or some comments don’t fit with the actual actions and decisions their business make, are warning signs you may be dealing with a dishonest partner. That’s certainly not something you want to bank your business on.

Feeling Dominated or Manipulated

Do you walk away from conversations about your partnership feeling like you are not sure what just happened or how you agreed to something you never intended on? Did you provide more information or concede more resources than expected in your last meeting—and failed to bring up the key points that matter to your business? This doesn’t mean your partner is intentionally being manipulative. What it may indicate though is that, in the relationship, you’re having trouble expressing your needs and making sure they are met.

Take a step back and try to change your behaviour. Bring a checklist of needs, expectations, and issues to every sit-down and don’t leave until they’re addressed. If you still can’t advocate for your business or if your partner consistently shows a “me first and always” attitude which affects your end negatively and leaves you feeling dominated or discouraged, it may be time to walk away.

Looking for Red Flags Early On

The earlier you can recognise these red flags the better. The more you wait to address things, the more difficult it is to change the nature of the agreement you create with your partner or to end the alliance. You can watch the full Strategic Partnerships Expert Panel webinar recording here for more key insights on the partnership red flags you must watch out for, as well as more information about important partnership issues, trends, and advice.

It’s always helpful to have an objective professional view to guide you through your partnership journey, something that Partner2Grow can provide. The more insights you have, the more empowered you are to make smart partnership decisions – because the success of your partnerships is of paramount importance and most of the time they fail, it could have been avoided.

How to Protect Your Business When Partnering with a Bigger Business

How to Protect Your Business When Partnering with a Bigger Business

Businesses never remain static. With market changes, competitors entering and leaving, and new challenges arising, companies have to adapt. Establishing strategic partnerships with bigger companies is sometimes a wise move for accelerating growth and creating scale. Bigger firms can offer many attractive assets as strategic partners, distributors, or even clients – but there are common pitfalls too so smaller businesses need to go in with their eyes open. A partnership like this can really make (or break) your business so it’s worth it to be prepared!

Importance of Partnerships

Both small and large companies can gain many benefits from establishing strategic partnerships with each other. Forming the right strategic partnerships is very useful particularly because it can serve as a “mass referral system.” For example, your partner could send your way thousands of potential customers at the right time of the buying cycle. They can also help you generate more leads that convert to sales and expedite the sales cycle. It’s important, however, to find the right partner, determine whether they’re a good fit for your business, and take measures to protect your rights and intellectual property when you’re partnering with a larger, more established organisation.

Partnership Advice

Large businesses often lack the ability to be nimble because of their sheer size. By partnering with small but growing companies, they have the opportunity to reach out to new customers, access innovative products, and improve their success rates. Start-ups excel in detecting and unlocking untapped demand, but many of them are not great at scaling their proof of concept. Growing companies also have limited resources and the more progress they make, the greater the challenges they face because of their lack of resources and experience.

So, if big and small companies work together and collaborate instead of compete, they can improve their processes and attain more profits along the way. Many smaller companies have successfully partnered with bigger businesses. Sydney-based Shippit is one fine example. They partnered with Australia Post last year and, with big help from the partnership, began expanding their business and services. While companies can use strategic alliances to grow their businesses exponentially, partnerships do come with a few risks. It pays to be aware of these risks and take the necessary precautions to prevent problems down the line.

Assess Your Options

Large companies have more time and resources to look for partnership opportunities. As a start-up or smaller company, you may lack the time to engage in protracted conversations with larger enterprises – especially if they turn out to be the wrong partnerships. It can be quite distracting and prevent you from focussing on your core tasks.

Negotiation periods could last as long as 12 to 18 months and even beyond. As a small business, you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to invest in and commit to an extended negotiation period. Remember though, if you don’t reach out to bigger organisations to pursue partnership opportunities you could miss out on the chance to leverage the assets of a ‘well-endowed’ partner. You’ll miss the opportunity to possibly reduce costs, access new markets, share resources, staff, and even warehouses.

However, if you rush into things, you might be stuck in a partnership without a clear idea of what you can gain and each party’s obligations—this opens you up to being taken advantage of. Whether it’s with a smaller or bigger business, weigh up the pros and cons and think things through before exploring strategic alliances and deciding on a partner. There are also clever ways you can test the water more quickly and get results before ‘hopping into bed’.

Put Things in Writing

Many bigger companies are being encouraged to partner with smaller businesses to go for government tenders. Hoping to gain certain benefits (e.g. having access to a bigger customer base and new technologies) there is a rising trend of businesses going into these arrangements without knowing what they might get out of the whole agreement. They get very excited and put down key details about their intellectual property or IP as part of the tender without getting the terms and conditions of the partnership in writing. Large enterprises may use smaller companies to win government tenders but this sort of partnership may be of little to no use to smaller companies (or even damaging) if they are ill considered. Smaller businesses should, therefore, find out what they’re going to gain and do as part of the tender, get it in writing, and keep their IP confidential until they know that they’re really going to benefit from the tender in the way they wanted.

This point was highlighted in our recent Strategic Partnerships Expert Panel Webinar. Kate Carnell, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, was one of our esteemed guests and, with the rising number of disputes involving smaller businesses being taken advantage of by bigger businesses, she stressed that smaller businesses should get everything in writing—especially terms involving intellectual property. This way, they’ll have something to hold on to in case a bigger partner does something that contradicts the agreement, fails to fulfil their obligation, or uses their IP without consent or beyond the bounds of the agreement.

Maintain Confidentiality and Build Trust

The webinar emphasised one key piece of advice: don’t give out your business plans or product ideas without knowing for sure if you’re going to receive your fair share of the cake. Non-disclosure agreements aren’t good enough in these scenarios. It’s equally important to build trust before signing the partnership contract. You shouldn’t have to be forced to reveal your details about your IP in the first few discussions with the bigger company (and vice-versa).

You could show them enough to tell them you have something they want. The moment they start asking for information that goes beyond the public domain or what you are comfortable to disclose, you have every right to request a confidentiality agreement and other sorts of protection. Doing so shows that you have good business etiquette and sense—a bigger company that is not out to take advantage of your business will respect this since they too realise that IP should be protected.

Always Be Prepared and Firm

Commercial lawyer, litigator, and Principal of Stacks Champion, Geoff Roberson was another panellist in the webinar. Agreeing to the merits of having a confidentiality agreement, he also stressed the importance of a smaller company being fully prepared. Enforcing partnership agreements with a bigger business can be risky especially if they’re looking out more for their own gains—this can be a ground for possible disputes and falling out. If they come up against a partner with deep pockets and long arms, the smaller business will be at a disadvantage.

As such, it’s imperative to be fully prepared first before entering a partnership with a bigger business. As discussed, practice confidentiality and put everything in writing. Be prepared in terms of fully understanding what you can give, each partner’s obligations, and what you want to gain. Of similar importance is being firm and not falling into compromise if you don’t want to—if a change in the terms of agreement is proposed, study it first and see if you’ll be short-changed. In a previous blog we also discussed several things you need to look out for before entering a partnership, from a lack in transparency to conflicting values.

In summary, for a strategic partnership with a bigger business to work, you need to have a good plan in writing. Make sure you outline what you and the other partner wants out of the partnership. Document it and get both sides to agree to it. Beware though that as a small business you might not have enough power to enforce what you have in writing. Big companies have the resources to hire legal firms to contest you so make sure you work out everything up front, establish trust, determine how your relationship is going to work, and document it all with special focus on protecting your IP and other rights under the law. Most importantly TRUST YOUR GUT!

If you want more key insights on how to successfully partner with a bigger business and other important partnership pointers, check out our free resources here.

Whether you need help identifying ideal partners or overcoming partnership obstacles you face, Partner2Grow has the knowledge, expertise, and tools to assist you in forming the right partnerships with businesses of all sizes. After all, size doesn’t always matter!

4 Common Reasons Partnerships Fail

4 Common Reasons Partnerships Fail

Strategic partnerships have the potential to provide tremendous benefits to your business. Once you have partnership capability, forming an alliance with the right partner can lead to certain advantages you’d never experience on your own, such as:

• An increase in market share
• Pooled resources
• Improved brand recognition
• Better quality product/service
• Greater customer satisfaction

And, ideally, many celebrations over the years as you and your strategic partner reach each business goal.

However, you’ll only enjoy these advantages if you can manage a successful alliance. The reality is that many businesses rush into partnerships without putting in the appropriate preparation, planning, and vetting work required. Or, they go in without an understanding of how to manage the partnership on an ongoing basis. As a result, it is estimated that more than half of alliances fail.

When you understand what is typically behind failure, you can take the appropriate actions to ensure you don’t make these mistakes. Ready to enter into your fruitful, sustainable strategic partnership? Here are the common pitfalls you want to avoid.

1. Lack of Trust and Transparency

In our recent Strategic Partnership Expert Panel webinar, the primary reasons why partnerships fail was one of the main topics discussed. Research highlighted in the webinar shows that poorly crafted legal and financial terms are behind only 14% of partnership failures – because if it’s a poor relationship with a poor partnering model, the legal agreement will not save it.

Without clearly set out expectations, including intellectual property protection, a proper confidentiality clause, and an understanding of what exactly each party is offering—and not offering—it’s not realistic to expect both parties to truly feel comfortable with the working relationship. And without trust, there’s no way the relationship can survive, no matter how advantageous it appears to both sides.

To help build a foundation of trust, both parties should take the time to assess what they’re looking for and what they can offer. This requires a thorough audit of resources and an honest look at what you can commit to. Then, this information is brought to the negotiating table and included in the financial and legal agreements.

2. Working Relationships that Just Don’t Work

Even if a potential partner appears to have a lot to offer, that’s not the same thing as being a good fit for your business. 40% of failures can be attributed to poor or damaged working relationships! If you want to avoid failure, you have to take the time at the beginning to ensure you have your sights on the right partner. I truly believe, the right partner wants you as much as you want them. A truly ideal partner will be much easier to connect with than one that simply was never going to be a good fit.

Ensure that your values are aligned with a prospective partner. For example, a conservative company might not fit with a business that is driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit. When the then CEO of British retailer, British Home Stores, David Dworkin, would determine which suppliers to partner with, he would meet with the head of each prospective partner not to discuss products and finances, but rather business philosophies.

Most people don’t even remember this failed partnership—when American food giant, Kraft Foods, formed a partnership with Starbucks to distribute their coffee into supermarkets. This failure ended up being quite messy, with both sides hurling accusations to explain why the relationship fell apart. Kraft later partnered with a company more aligned with its market and brand values to bring coffee to supermarkets—Midwestern fast food company, McDonald’s.

Even if a partnership looks good on paper, you don’t want to waste your valuable time and resources entering into a relationship that’s not value-aligned. Remember, your partner is someone you’ll potentially be collaborating with, sharing ideas and resources, and working with for years—so you better enjoy having a cup of coffee with them!

3. Flawed Strategy and Planning

The biggest reason that strategic partnerships fail is neglecting to create comprehensive plans for the alliance. Businesses tend to spend about 10% of their time honing in on business case and internal management, and only 20% on developing a healthy business model and structure—yet these two factors are known to account for 60% of the partnership’s value.

Businesses focus too much time on the deal terms and too little on the relationship itself. Too much emphasis on the terms of the relationship, without actually fleshing out the structure of the partnership and creating a roadmap for how it will work, is a sure way to cause strategic partnership failure.

4. Is It a Win-Win?

When it comes to building a successful partnership, both parties need to have win-win intent. This means that both sides have to be strategically aligned, desiring the well-being of the other and be capable of bringing advantage to the other party. In the webinar we also discussed that when James Stevens, Founder of Roses Only, couldn’t see how he could add enough value back into a partnership, he wouldn’t even bother.

Businesses are motivated when they’re going to get something out of a relationship—why bother putting in effort and resources if your partner doesn’t have value to offer? You don’t want to be on either end of an imbalanced relationship. If one side doesn’t have enough to offer, the other will lose interest for this very reason. Ask yourself: Are your target markets well-aligned? Will your success lead to their success and vice versa? Are you in complementary industries? Will you be in competition and if so is that ok?

By Actively Avoiding Failure, You Can Create Success

Take proactive steps to help ensure that any strategic partnership you entertain is one that is capable of bringing you the success you envision. You can watch the full recording of our Strategic Partnerships Expert Panel webinar here to get a deeper understanding of why partnerships fail, as well as other insights into forming successful business alliances.

When you’re ready to start preparing for a strategic partnership, Partner2GROW can provide you with the guidance, mentorship, essential advice, and other tools that can help you form the perfect partnerships for your business’ growth.

Know Your Partnerships: The Difference between a Joint Venture, a Marketing Partnership, and a Strategic Partnership

Know Your Partnerships: The Difference between a Joint Venture, a Marketing Partnership, and a Strategic Partnership

Partnering with another business can be a powerful way to expand your business’ reach, to trigger growth, and to help weather the inevitable ups and downs of running a business—if you form the right partnership, that is. The key to being able to create a fruitful alliance is in understanding what type of business relationship you are actually seeking.

Watch this short video and make sure you’re never caught out again asking for the wrong thing and shutting your partnership discussions down before they get started.

If you don’t know the difference you’re not alone. In our recent Strategic Partnerships Expert Panel webinar (you can view the full recording here) which I was given the privilege to host, when asked if they knew the difference between a marketing partnership, a strategic partnership, and a joint venture, 61% of the audience members were either unsure or didn’t know the difference. Without an understanding of the unique characteristics and advantages of each, how can you seek out the right partnership?

This is a real risk for newer companies, as well as for businesses that are well-established and are courting a possible partner. Trying to forge the wrong relationship or force something before you are ready can be a costly mistake. Big businesses and professionals with a history in the corporate world will be familiar with the nuances of each type of partnership. You don’t want to look like you don’t know what you are talking about by initiating the wrong conversation and you certainly don’t want to waste your and your potential partner’s time. However this is easy to avoid and you’re in the right place!

Understand Your Partnerships

A common mistake that start-ups make is approaching larger businesses in hopes of forming a “joint venture”. In practice, this is like walking up to a potential partner and asking them to marry you before you’ve even gone on a first date. To put things into better perspective, in the webinar we likened the three major types of partnerships to the three stages of a relationship.

  • A marketing partnership is like the first date. It’s the two of you deciding to get together for one goal—to have coffee a.k.a. to work on a marketing campaign, combining the messaging of both of your brands. This is also where you find out how well you get along together.
  • A strategic partnership, is like the engagement. There’s a lot that can happen here as more resources can be shared and collaborations made. It’s really exciting as you and your strategic partner join forces to work on more than just marketing – this level of partnership has you focussed on more than growing your audience – you’re looking at the other key benefits of brand leverage, expanding resources, and monetising your assets, but you are still two totally separate entities.
  • And then, there is the marriage: The joint venture, where you are literally going into business with someone. It’s legally entangling and is a commitment you only should make with a partner you are extremely sure of because getting out of the relationship can be a messy and expensive task. Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Export, notes that the main reason joint ventures fail is that sometimes both parties do not fully understand the expectations, potential outcomes, and the investment each is prepared to contribute. For a successful joint venture, you’ve got to know your business well enough to know what type of business marriage you have the capability to sustain. This takes much more than just mutual interest.

Successful Marketing Partnerships

So, when is a marketing partnership right for you? This type of alliance can work well for new businesses and any company who wants to shorten their sales cycle and get much quicker wins. The marketing partnership is a practical first step that can be the start of something more, or not, depending on the unique nature of the relationship between the two businesses.

Its strong point is that it is a simple, straightforward arrangement that only involves marketing – and it’s significantly more effective. In fact, in the 2017 High Growth Study by Hinge Research Institute that compared high growth firms with no-growth firms, partnership marketing was found to be THE most impactful marketing technique for high growth firms. So ask yourself if you can afford not to build your partnership marketing skills.

Even though it’s pretty straight forward, the majority of businesses we encounter simply don’t get it right and are in-avertedly building a partner un-friendly reputation which deters the best partners. This was also reinforce in the webinar where 76% of respondents stated their partnerships could have been more successful or failed altogether. Proactively build your reputation for being partner friendly by getting this right and you will be handsomely rewarded.

Usually, it’s not hugely complicated nor does it require a large commitment, making it ideal when you want to test the water and get quick wins. Like a first date, there are no strings attached outside of the campaign.

Look at the seemingly magical branding bond between portable camera company GoPro and Austrian-based global energy drink company Red Bull. These brands have shared values and an almost identical customer base—the young and adventurous! GoPro may be much smaller than Red Bull, but the company still has something of value to offer the energy drink company: reaffirmation of Red Bull’s commitment to the action-packed, no-fear lifestyle. GoPro, of course, gains formidable market attention through Red Bull’s internationally recognised name.

Even though the two businesses are vastly different in terms of size, with a marketing partnership they both benefit equally.

Successful Strategic Partnerships

A strategic partnership allows your business access to a whole range of resources you may not have otherwise been able to use. With this type of partnership, two businesses decide to partner beyond just marketing. This means that many things can happen—shared office space, staff, filming resources, warehouse facilities—the possibilities extend as far as your businesses’ resources. Strategic partnerships are great for gaining access to global markets and when you want to scale your business.

Cloud-based call centre TCN formed this type of partnership with accounts receivable and debt collection recovery service provider Insight Mercantile. As a result, Insight Mercantile has been able to boost profitability by 15% thanks to the use of TCN’s cloud-based contact centre suite, Platform 3.0. TCN, as a result of the partnership, experienced stronger growth in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Successful Joint Ventures

Finland’s Nokia with Siemens AG of Germany to form Nokia Siemens; Dow Chemical Company plus the US glass manufacturer Corning Inc., to form Dow Corning; British luxury brand Jaguar and the Chinese automakers Chery Automobiles to create the Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automobile Company—large companies enter into joint ventures to remain competitive, meet the challenges of limited resources, or to otherwise become a stronger entity as one than they ever could have become on their own.

Small and mid-sized businesses may consider joint ventures as well, but only after careful consideration, research, and, ideally, previous partnership experience.

Making Your Business Stronger Through the Right Partnerships

Entering into a partnership is a critical decision for businesses of all sizes. Take the first step and get the insights your business needs by watching Partner2GROW’s very informative Strategic Partnerships Expert Panel webinar on understanding the difference between marketing partnerships, strategic partnerships, and joint ventures, and to get key advice and timely information on the many aspects, issues, and developments relating to partnerships., and to get key advice and timely information on the many aspects, issues, and developments relating to partnerships.

Partner2GROW can also help your business gain clarity, knowledge, and expertise in the decision-making process, along with an accessible system for helping businesses of all stages build their partnership capabilities and form ideal relationships. Remember, with the right partnerships, everyone wins!

Click here to get started so we can support your growth through the right partnerships.

Key Insights from the Partnership Expert Panel

Key Insights from the Partnership Expert Panel

On February 22, we had the privilege of working with GoToWebinar to bring together an esteemed Strategic Partnerships Expert Panel which I was honoured to host. The event was essentially an extensive online forum where key insights and discussions on partnership trends, advice, issues, and important information were discussed and shared with over 750 business people.

It was filled to the brim with everything you need to know about partnerships and included excellent audience insights from their participation in polls.

For those of you who missed it or want a salient recap, we’ve pulled out the key take outs for your benefit however for maximum benefit we encourage you to listen to the full recording here.

Meet Our Esteemed Panel of Experts

Simone Novello is the Founder and Managing Director of Partner2GROW and is considered Australia’s foremost strategic partnership authority. She anchors the webinar with invaluable insights leveraging off the proven and proprietary system she developed after being involved in hundreds of partnerships over the last two decades worth hundreds of millions of dollars with leading brands, including American Express, Commonwealth Bank, and Virgin Australia.

We were proud to host Kate Carnell the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman since March 2016. It’s a big and important role and speaks volumes about the experience she brings to the webinar. Aside from running her own small business for 15 years, Kate was CEO for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Food and Grocery Council and Australian General Practice Network (AGPN). She is a genuine authority and shared key information about the growing number of partnership related cases her office is seeing.

Meet Janine Zappini, Founder and CEO of a successful start-up, Simply Raw. Janine is what every start-up entrepreneur wants to be in five years time. Hearing first-hand what-to-dos and, just as importantly, what-not-to-dos when it comes to partnership will certainly help you out!

Rounding out the webinar panel with pragmatic partnership legal advice is Geoff Roberson, commercial lawyer, litigator and Principal of Stacks Champion. Geoff knows all about strategic partnerships, with a long history in protecting and defending numerous clients in all kinds of good and bad partnerships.

Let’s get started, shall we?

The Polls – Audience Insights

We were extremely keen to learn from the audience and ensure the webinar panel was focussed on what was going to add the most value. We ran several polls which delivered fantastic audience insights about their knowledge and experience of partnerships. Check them out below.

It’s exciting to see this because referrals can be viewed as a form of partnership with your customers or audience. Find one great client happy to extol your virtues and you’ll have an authentic way to get the word out about your business in a positive way! Strategic partnership is really referrals on steroids where you find a partner who can do this for you en masse!

Over three quarters of attendees had been involved in or approached for strategic or marketing partnership again highlighting the importance of the topic for the business community. Being approached for partnership is a sure fire sign that your assets are being noticed so you want to make sure you are prepared for these fantastic opportunities.

Do you know the difference between a marketing partnership, strategic partnership, and joint venture? Well, if you don’t you’re not alone as 61% of our webinar audience wasn’t sure either! Good thing this webinar can help you differentiate and avoid confusion. How can you form a successful partnership if you’re not sure what to ask for or what the options are?

A marketing partnership is like dating – there’s no real commitment (yet), but partners can start to focus on getting some quick wins by running Marketing campaigns together and evaluating how good a fit they really are. It’s the perfect place to start any relationship.

A strategic partnership is where the dating has gone well and you’re both looking for new and exciting ways to help each other grow; something more solid and longer term. Think of it like an engagement that starts to go beyond movie night and into sharing more resources for mutual benefit.

A joint venture is, well, like a marriage, way more committed both legally and professionally between two (or more) parties. It’s essential to know the difference or you may find yourself scratching your head about why your ‘first date’ ran a mile when you started talking marriage!

While 25% of attendees had achieved great success through their partnerships, a whopping 62% believed it could have been better with only 14% a complete failure. So the overall consensus was that it is a powerful way to build and protect your company but you really have to know how to get it right – it’s one aspect of business you just can’t afford to wing – yet so many people do – mostly because they don’t know there’s help available. Connecting with partners isn’t hard, especially on great networking sites like LinkedIn. What’s hard is connecting with partners who can give you sustainable growth – it’s about knowing who the right partners are.

At around the 30-minute mark, we showed via the UN, GE, PwC, and other leading brands and media outlets, why having partnership capability helps you stay ahead of the curve. What are your best partnership opportunities right now? Once you have the right strategy, finding the connection through sites like LinkedIn is the easy bit. But connections on their own are not enough – most of us have plenty right? The million dollar question (literally) is how do you leverage them for mutual benefit? The answers are in the webinar.

So, What’s the Really Big Partnership Opportunity Right Now?

The biggest opportunities right now are partnerships between bigger and smaller companies. However, you’ve got to know the drivers and barriers involved since understanding these will lead to key insights your business can exploit and help you overcome likely objections and issues.

We covered, and it’s important to understand, the three common partnership mistakes and how to avoid them while understanding how to leverage the four key benefits of partnerships. Ultimately the secret to success is having the right mindset and ensuring you have a proven approach which was elaborated further in the webinar.

Almost an hour into the webinar, Janine from Simply Raw gave fantastic firsthand insights for start-ups. From a failed partnership and the red flags you must watch for to the power of partnerships when done well, she says building trust is extremely important. So is being aware of how much to give and when.

Janine also revealed that the conduct of one of the companies she was involved with was ultimately damaging to the Australian economy, and one of the reasons the panel came together with GoToWebinar to raise awareness about the alarming trends and incredible opportunities. Her experience further established the notion that a win-win result is better for the economy. The audience were all rooting and hoping for a positive outcome for Janine!

Staying Out of the Court System

Kate discussed how the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman was set up to help small business stay out of the court system. Situations like what Janine encountered are classic examples and the ASBFEO can certainly help. With the Australian Government pressuring multinationals to partner with small businesses, Kate talked about the rise in cases her office was seeing where the small guys were being left out in the cold once tenders were won. She reinforced the importance of ensuring you go about your partnerships in the right way – and get everything in writing!

The later stages of the webinar bring us back to trust. Should you get a confidentiality agreement before entering into a strategic partnership? Legal expert Geoff talks about the risks when small businesses try to enforce agreements with much larger companies. Sometimes, the bigger the company, the more they’ll try to bully you into an arrangement that’s not in your best interests. Success largely comes down to the courting period (which will keep you out of court!) and laying a solid foundation – the agreement alone won’t save you if you’re dealing with a partner with long arms and deep pockets.

Clever Ways to Succeed in Partnerships

As expected, clever methods for succeeding in mutually-beneficial partnerships were also discussed, much to the appreciation of the online audience. One key point is to maintain a diverse portfolio with partners of varying size – but ensure you have a focussed strategy. Kate stressed that you should value your intellectual property—big businesses understand that you need to protect your interests and will respect you for being an astute business person for proactively safeguarding your IP at the appropriate time. Don’t get pressured into one-sided agreements; ensure you are confident about what you bring to the table.

Remember, major established corporations are ready and willing to partner with companies of any size, shape, or form if they have something they need. Think what you can gain from an alliance with a giant company with massive international resources – that said, remember that it’s not the biggest partner that will get you the best result – it’s the best aligned partner! Just be careful and make sure it’s a win-win situation.

Other Partnership Topics and Issues

There were several other topics that were tackled during and after the webinar including how cross-cultural partnerships can be impactful, how to effectively protect your intellectual property, and measuring the value associated to a strategic partnership. It’s unfortunate that the webinar had to end as we would have preferred to discuss these issues in a more in-depth manner. The good news is we’ll be coming up with several blogs that will do just that, so stay tuned to our blog section!

Watch the Full Recording Now!

Of course you want to! This blog is merely a summary of some of the webinar’s most important points and doesn’t compare to watching the whole thing. So, we recommend that you get comfortable with a drink and snack, and click this link for the full recording!

As always, you can contact us at Partner2Grow if you need further advice or help with partnerships and building partnership capability. Or perhaps you need the help of the ASBAFEO or a lawyer? All their contact details are on the webinar slides 😉 Happy partnering!

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