7 Simple Steps to Identify an Ideal Partner for Your Business Jonathan Herrick Every business is looking for new ways to grow sales and reach more customers. Although often overlooked, partnering with like-minded businesses can be a great channel for your business and offers a ton of advantages. One of the major benefits is that you can increase your customer base and marketing outlets with relatively low cost and zero risks. However, finding ways to identify businesses you can partner with can be a struggle. How do you identify potential business partners? There is more than one way to assess whether a business partner is suitable to work with or not. Here are some of the most common and easiest ways to determine whether a potential partnership is right for you. Find some common ground To create a beneficial partnership with someone, you need some form of common ground. Start by looking at their values. Do they align with yours? If you can’t find any overlap then the partnership will not be balanced. Next, uncover who their ideal customers are. Do they serve a similar customer to yours or are they reaching customers that are outside your wheelhouse? For example, if you serve small to mid-sized B2B customers and your potential partner has built their business on enterprise clients, then you may need to look for a partner that is a better fit. Consider their reputation Before you jump in head first into partnerships, remember that when you choose to partner up with a business, you hitch your wagon to theirs. That means you need to do your due diligence to better understand their background and have researched the company thoroughly. You don’t want to be connected with a company that has had some shady dealings in the past as your reputation will be tarred with the same brush. Search Google, check out their profile on LinkedIn and browse their Facebook pages for more of an idea about how they are regarded by online. Look at an alternative service or product If you are going to partner with a business, find one that can contribute a complimentary service, yet still has similar needs as your own. If you are in IT, then source a company which is compatible with that field. If you offer a product, search for someone that could provide a similar service which could tie in with the product. Or if you have a service, then approach a business that has a great product to bring to the table. Analyze current relationships Perhaps you already have a relationship with a potential business partner, but you have yet to take action. Maybe you haven’t thought purposefully about how beneficial a partnership between the two of you could be? Think about who you interact with currently. Existing relationships can save a lot of time and energy. Who do you think would provide particular benefits to your organization in your current day-to-day dealings? Ask for a referral Is there someone that may be able to recommend a particular business or provide you with a referral? Maybe you have a possible shortlist of local enterprises and just need to source a connection to get you in the door. If you sincerely aim to partner with someone, then put it out there. You may find that your network has many great ideas. If all fails, then reach out to your shortlist and see what comes back. Look for established businesses Partnering with a startup may be beneficial to some companies, but it may also be in your best interests to work with those that already have a lot of customers. Identify those businesses with a good social media presence and a large email list of potential clients or customers. Invest your time and get to know them on a personal level before you sign on the dotted line. If you don’t feel you are up to the task of approaching them, then hire an outside business development firm to do it for you. Go local While you may find that partnering with a larger business in another state may be in your favor, there is a lot to be said for maintaining local connections. Keep your eyes open at networking events and meetups, and browse possibilities at local business meetings and seminars. You will be able to create a stronger bond and have a better understanding of each other’s needs through regular face to face meetings. Don’t rush into making a wrong partnership decision because you have some self-imposed deadline in mind. Take your time to interview potential business partners and thoroughly research each possibility. You don’t want to find out months into your agreement that you had overlooked something major and have to backtrack out of your proposal as that will send the wrong message to your new found partner and potential customers. If you are genuine and have a well-planned strategy, then partnerships could be just the channel you have been looking for to grow your business.