Everyone seems to be talking about forging strategic alliances these days and why not it makes sound business sense. Think about it, we can't do everything and if we tried then we would soon find ourselves extremely stressed and very tired.
Having a relevant network that enhances your business proposition and a system of alliances to help you deliver it, is a sensible strategy for every business. The problem is it's not as easy as it sounds!
In the past have you worked hard to identify and establish strategic alliances with other professionals? Have these offered great promise in the beginning but fizzled out as one or both parties lost interest, trust or just gave up?
This is the normal cycle of business alliances for so many people. They fail for so a myriad of reasons, but the big fault is usually the lack of a plan to succeed.
Anyone with some effort can establish new professional alliances, but the secret is to make sure that they last and are profitable having a plan with identified goals and objectives is the best recipe for success.
Here are 4 strategies for success:
Have your own clear goals and objectives before you start
The first step in the strategic alliance process must be your business's own alliance strategy, otherwise it's easy to lose focus and shift priorities to other more pressing matters outside of the relationship as business conditions change.
Too many businesses establish a business connection before determining if it's really a strategic fit or whether their business is ready to support the requirements of the alliance. More importantly too many businesses do not identify the types of clients they want to attract in any new venture before they start to establish a new relationship. Is it any wonder then that people complain of the wrong type of client or a lack of available opportunities?
Without a plan any conflicts and possible communication misunderstandings within and between the two businesses can lead to wasted time and resources, lost productivity, and more importantly missed opportunities.
2. Share your vision with every alliance
Every alliance should have equal partners. Each company has its own objectives goals and vision. To be successful any alliance has to be collaborative with both parties sharing what they want from this relationship. Each partner should not be afraid to disclose 'what's in it for me'. Once it's out in the open, it's easier to decide if this is an alliance you want to pursue. Put simply, both parties need to agree what good looks like and establish success criteria to monitor on a regular basis.
3.Make sure you identify the opportunities available
Why not consider a joint planning session with any new alliance to map out what success looks like and how this can be achieved for all parties. You can identify the opportunities for clients, the referral process and how new clients can benefit from this new alliance.
4. Keep talking - Communication is key
As the alliance progresses, you can get a situation where it evolves and runs the risk of taking on a life of its own and moves away from its original objectives. Communication is vital; one way to ensure this happens is to establish regular meetings and milestones to evaluate your efforts and to ensure that your original joint plan is on track.
At these meetings, both business owners need to review the results to date and compare them to any success criteria they established during strategic thinking and planning. Keep focused on the intent of the alliance, but be prepared to modify your agreement and processes if necessary.
These four simple strategies can help and I would urge you all to use them going forward.
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John Joe McGinley