Entrepreneurs tend to be self-reliant individuals. They have the incredible ability to manage, operate, and lead a business. However, the market changes, competitors enter, and new opportunities crop up. With these changes, it is expected that every company wants to grow and move ahead of their competition.
Many startup companies accelerate their growth by receiving funding venture capital organizations or other corporate investors. However, this is not the only model by which you can expand your business. Our recent experience with Hello Divorce has taught us that partnerships can become an effective way to speed up business growth.
Partnerships are created to reach new audiences and develop projects together. In other words, a partnership is just a fancy word of saying "collaboration that is mutually beneficial."
For us, Hello, Divorce was the ideal partner. Our paths crossed when we were considering making divorce affordable and easy for Coloradans. Hello Divorce was already an award-winning startup that had so much experience with divorces in California. After several discussions, we knew that Hello Divorce was the perfect partner to complement our weaknesses while strengthening our company.
Erin Levine, CEO and Founder of Hello Divorce, had a great team of professionals that were open to work together and bring Hello Divorce to Colorado. We nicknamed this project, "Colorado Divorce." Weekly Zoom meetings, several Slack channels, and countless emails were a part of this process. However, by partnering with Hello Divorce, we were working smarter, not harder.
When selecting partners that add value to your company or organizations to work with, we learn a few things. These are some of the lessons we learned.
Mutual Accountability. A partnership takes dedication, time, and hard work. If you want a partnership that produces results, both sides will need to be committed to doing so. If you don't have the time or energy to dedicate to building a partnership, maybe it's an indicator that you are not interested or not a good fit. Both sides will have to deliver results and keep each other accountable.
Relationship First. A partnership can help a business develop a new product or service while gaining exposure to a new target market. However, before thinking of the legal arrangments, make sure you have a healthy, open, and transparent relationship. Take time to build a relationship. Learn as much as you can about your partner's current situation, plans, and long-term goals. This will better enable you to identify opportunities and confirm that a company is a good fit as a strategic partner. After having a healthy relationship, you can start the discussion of financials or legal agreements. Don't start a partnership by insisting on signing a contract. Sometimes as an attorney, you will have to fight that urge. Let the relationship develop, and agreeing will be easy.
Open Communication. A partnership isn't something where you sign a legal agreement and then go back to business as usual. A partnership, like any relationship, must be nurtured. Both sides must put time and energy into the partnership with constant communication. Hold regular meetings to review the results of your collaboration, and make any necessary adjustments.
Share Knowledge. For a successful partnership, there must be a shared vision for the project. However, to meet this objective, both sides have to share lessons, experiences, and ideas. In our case, Hello Divorce had all of the "know-how" of how people deal with divorces. Our strong side was technology and project management. By combing our knowledge, we were able to overcome certain limitations. Also, by mutually sharing our experience, we created a better product for Colorado.
Lift your Partner. A partnership is one of the most time and cost-effective ways to enhance a brand, expand your market, and generate new leads. Depending on the size of the partnership, it may not only mean working together. Sometimes, your partner might need your help in other phases of the project. Take the time to work unforeseen issues and collaborate in other aspects of the project. For example, Hello Divorce has worked with us to enhance our visuals and digital marketing knowledge.
Relationships in business are as meaningful as any investment for the growth of your company. It has never been more critical to find partners that will enable your business to grow. For example, in 2015, Starbucks joined forces with Spotify to a "first-of-its-kind music ecosystem. We've seen other successful partnerships that range from Taco Bell and Doritos (with the Doritos Locos Tacos) to Apple and Nike (with the Nike + iPod) launch.
Regardless of the industry, partnerships are a viable way to expand your business. However, a successful collaboration is not just about numbers and financials. Always treat your partner with the respect that you would bring to any relationship. When you focus on creating a meaningful business relationship, your lead generation efforts and bottom line will follow. After several months of planning and execution, we are launching Hello Divorce in Colorado. Now, we are taking Hello Divorce to Utah and all remaining 47 states.