Use Strategic Alliances to Grow Your Business

Many of today's successful businesses are built on strategic alliances -- a collaboration of resources for the purpose of gaining an advantage in the marketplace. This is especially true of virtual businesses, which are usually based on a network of people in different locations, with defined roles, in a temporary or evolving organization. In order to grow you need others.

If hiring an employee or contracting for service is not the right solution, a strategic alliance or partnership may be the answer. Engaging a "partner" in the process means you will share risks. Responsibilities and rewards.

Strategic alliances are a great way to create or test new business ideas without a huge expense, but it does require attention and good management to succeed.

Here are the steps I use and recommend following when seeking strategic partners.

Envision the Goals you want to accomplish.

Be as clear as possible. Then ask yourself what it will take to achieve these goals? If you see you can't do it alone, find the resources you need elsewhere.

Look for a strategic alliance.

You're seeking someone with the resources or expertise you need who might be willing to be a temporary partner, working with you toward agreed-upon goals..

Consider those within your network who have the qualities you need.

They might be people you've done business with, friends, former school or employment contacts, industry connections and, most definitely, relationships you've developed through use of the Web.

Contact each person you want to approach and set a time to meet with them.

Tell them what you are trying to accomplish. Listen to their feedback on your idea. If they seem cool to your idea, or if anything seems to bog down, don't become discouraged. This might not be the right individual or the time might not be right for them. Approach others you've identified. Only if you begin to realize there's a major flaw in your thinking should you consider dropping your plan.

Select the person who is enthusiastic about your plans.

Yes, they need to have the skill set and resources you need, but those who are motivated personally will be your best allies.They will need to see what's in it for them.

Once you've found the right person, decide upon and document each of your responsibilities and your rewards.

Work through any disagreements until you come up with a solution that everyone agrees with. If that doesn't happen at this point, reassess your alliance. It's your decision, and this early point is a good place to set the mode for future decision making.

Create a structure for accountability.

I like setting milestones with time-specific goals for each party. It's a great way to stay on target and definitely ups the odds of success.

The art and skill of creating strategic alliances has become a 21st century business requirement. Chances are you have people within your network that could be instrumental in your reaching the next level in your business. A strategic alliance may just be the answer.


A coach with passion for her work and her clients' success, Marian will inspire and challenge you to find and stay on your right path. She is a seasoned executive, entrepreneur and professional and shares that expertise with her clients. You can count on her as a partner and guide to accelerate the achievement of your goals.

Marian is co-producer and host of the annual Small Business Summit 2006-2009, an all-day conference that brings together small business owners and technology pro...

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