Productive Partnerships

Collaborating through partnerships is a productive tactic to leverage your resource and time.


Collaboration through partnerships or joint ventures is an increasingly popular strategy to help businesses access new markets, share research and development or co-market. It’s a productive tactic to leverage your resources and time. 

Benefits of partnerships

A strategic partnership is a collaboration between two companies or more, with each partner retaining their independence while contributing towards a shared goal. For example, working together could take the form of sharing new technologies, forming a purchasing or distribution agreement, running joint promotions, lending employees' expertise, contributing to the costs of exhibiting at conferences or collaborating on a joint product or service development.

 It's a key productivity tactic. Doing more with less.

 Examples of strategic partnership productivity benefits include:

  • Diversifying your product/service lines and market, providing access to new markets and product knowledge. For example, fast-tracking product development if another business has already spent funding and time on research and development you can piggy back off.
  • Saving marketing costs or speeding up new customer acquisition. If you’re seeking to enter an export market, it could be faster/easier to partner with a (ideally larger) business who is already in market. It could save you years and provide instant credibility and distribution channels.
  • Reducing potential risks while avoiding 'reinventing the wheel'. By sharing expertise and infrastructure, you're often able to cut costs such as sharing knowledge and equipment.
  • Joining forces to prevent the competition from entering the market or luring clients away.
  • Shoring up gaps in your business by accessing additional resources and enhancing your capacity to bid on large contracts.
  • Strengthening customer, supplier and any other business relationship by forming an alliance with other industry leaders (even better if their company is more well-known than yours).
  • Building reciprocal web links between businesses, referrals and recommendations to complementary products or services.
  • Promotional discounts or bundling products and services together.
  • Enjoying economies of scale, as joint production or distribution efforts often allow for larger quantities of goods or services to be produced and delivered at lower average costs. This can improve profit margins and competitiveness.
  • Increased bargaining power when negotiating with suppliers.

 Balance the concessions when partnering, for example, sharing margin, customers, ownership of contracts and the variances of jointly managing a project, with the opportunity to fast track your business to the next level.

Deciding whether a partnership is right for you

The success of a strategic partnership business model relies on setting clear expectations around the desired outcomes and an understanding of what all partners need to contribute. Like a marriage, an alignment of business and personal values will help make business relationships more harmonious.

Before entering into a strategic partnership, take time to consider any potential areas of concern carefully. For example, you'll need to decide how you will split any profit or revenue, who owns any jointly developed intellectual property, what happens when there is a dispute and if there's a cultural difference in doing business.

Choosing the right partner

Start by identifying business partnerships with organisations demonstrating complementary capabilities and assets. Look at the different sectors that will add more value to your company, whether that's marketing, licensing, supply chain and distribution, technology, or research and development. You must take the time to evaluate all potential partner companies thoroughly. Successful partnerships will offer mutual strengths that can free you to manage the areas your company does best.

Ideally, a strategic partner will:

  • Have a similar work ethic, approach to business, and be able to commit the time, resources, and energy required to deliver on key objectives.
  • Be financially secure and have the capacity and capability to do what they say.
  • Have the appropriate insurances, legal, cyber-security employment and confidentiality processes in place.
  • Have zero conflicts of interest. Plus, you're adding value to their customer base and not competing with their services. You will get the most significant benefit from a strategic partnership with firms with different offerings to you but that have similar audiences.
  • Be prepared to share the risk.
  • Open up larger opportunities.

It’s usually wise to sign a formal contract or arrangement to set out roles and expectations. In addition, you'll most probably want to clarify reporting methods, milestones, goals and arbitration methods for resolving disputes. 

Managing strategic partnerships with customers

You can also leverage the relationships you have with existing customers. Consider how you could:

  • Promote customer success stories that showcase the work you do and the value you can offer. For example, add case studies or blogs detailing your capabilities and how the outcome of your work benefits your customers.
  • Discuss customer collaborations or recent projects on social media and ask them to share these stories with their networks.
  • Harness the power of social proof by asking customers to leave reviews and testimonials on their channels, as well as external review sites.
  • Use customer insights to advance and refine marketing strategies and product development. 

Many companies form successful, strategic partnerships with other companies. Recognise that partnerships and collaborations with other businesses, your community, your team, and your customers are one of the most common ways to grow your organisation. So maybe it's time you formalised your partnering productivity strategies.

Next steps

  • Take time to develop a list of possible partners and where you'd like to collaborate. Then, describe your objectives and how partners could help you achieve these
  • Look for partnership or joint venture opportunities within your existing network and business community.
  • Chat to your professional network (accountant, lawyer, banker) or business advisor for referrals or suggestions.
  • Find one partner. Make a start.
  • If you need finance, ASB has a Productivity Grant to help improve productivity across a range of business activities - apply before 30 June. Enquire online, visit a branch call 0800 272 222 or contact your ASB Banker. 

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