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In the Marketplace

Building Successful Strategic Partnerships

Robert Wallace


Christian entrepreneurs will play an ever-increasing role in building the Kingdom of God. Why? The logic of such an argument is based on the premise that the more successful our businesses are, the more revenue and profit they generate. The more profit generated, the larger the base from which tithes and offerings are released. The more capital God’s faithful possess, the faster we can build the Kingdom, thus accelerating Christ’s second coming. The most expedient way to grow these businesses is through strategic partnerships and business alliances.

The Strategic Partnership Model

Through the researched model explained in my book, “Strategic Partnerships: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Joint Ventures and Alliances”, I help entrepreneurs to master the art of strategic partnering. The twelve-step model works as follows:inside_asi_spring_2008_page_31_image_0003

Build a foundation of trust. Quality, not quantity is the rule to go by when creating a strategic partnership. Although many tasks can be completed when two companies form an alliance, very little of real substance or positive value can be created unless the people within the organizations share a bond of trust and mutual respect.

Look for hidden opportunities. Opportunity gaps—or vacuums—develop in markets due to uncertainty, chaos, inconsistencies, timing, and lags or leads in market developments. Capitalizing on these opportunities in the market often requires adding new capabilities to a company, and the quickest way to do this may be through strategic partnering.

Maximize client pain IQ. Successful business development managers realize the first thing they must do when opening a new account or expanding an existing one is to understand where the client is feeling the most “pain.” Taking time to alleviate the client’s “pain points” enables the budding strategic partners to quickly hone in on where to expend their resources in order to give their clients the greatest value.

Know thy self. The entrepreneur should give his or her own organization a thorough analysis to determine whether or not they have the capabilities needed to fulfill their part in the proposed joint venture. Know thy partner. Just as it’s important to know your own organization thoroughly before entering into a joint venture, you also need to know all about the organization you’re considering as a partner.

Perform 360⁰ review. In today’s world there is an abundance of public and private information on individuals and companies. You will be amazed by the plethora of information received by simply searching for an individual and/or his or her company on Google. Sources of information may be government agencies, competitors, internal staff, or strategic stakeholders.

Know how to embrace the boulder. Whenever small businesses attempt to team with large corporations, they risk being crushed or taken over by the larger company. This risk can be minimized if the smaller company becomes a student of the larger and finds a niche that makes the small business necessary and essential to the overall success of both entities.

Determine the alpha project. No matter how much businesses talk at each other about strategic partnerships, the fact is quite simple: nothing happens until something happens. Even if the initial project is small, it must be well defined.

Maintain independence. Unless you are planning to completely integrate your organization with the other company, you must maintain a certain level of independence from your partner so that your company can continue to grow and prosper beyond the joint venture’s end point.

Know how to embrace the porcupine. How do you embrace a porcupine? Very carefully. Companies—like people—have distinct nuances and idiosyncrasies, which can sometimes make them very difficult to work with. The first step in embracing the porcupine is to develop an atmosphere of mutual nurture and respect.

Understand the legal options. Strategic partnerships come in many legal forms. While much of this can be left to lawyers, there are legal issues that should be understood before you sign on the dotted line.

Understand all potential transition strategies. Business—like life—goes through cycles. All relationships go through some form of transition. The relationship will not and cannot remain the same. The twelve-step strategic partnership model outlined above is proven and effective. Put these steps into practice, and be on your way to a successful partnership, the profits of which we can use to further the Lord’s work.