Building Business Partnerships

by Evan Davies, Chief Executive - QLD, VIC & NZ | |   Managing People
Building Business Partnerships

There is plenty of evidence that meaningful partnerships and alliances are good for business. Knowing how to join forces with another business can be a key factor in making any growing company successful.

The adage that two brains are better than one may explain why a lot of businesses create partnerships. There is plenty of evidence that meaningful partnerships and alliances are good for business.

Whilst big business has always known this (e.g., McDonald's with Coca-Cola and Walt Disney; Nike shoes and iPhone), partnerships can bring significant benefits for small firms too.

Knowing how to join forces with another business can be a key factor in making any growing company successful. Here are some of the factors to consider when searching for a strategic partner and building a successful business partnership:

  1. Set some clear objectives around what your company wants from a potential relationship. The vision for a proposed partnership needs to be crystal clear. 

  2. Consider what benefits you can provide to help your potential partner's objectives. To discover this, it's worth considering the business assets. What assets are in your business, both fixed assets and intellectual property assets, that you will be able to leverage to achieve success from a business partnership?

  3. There needs to be a 'win-win' intention, with something in it for both parties. All target markets need to align, plus there needs to be value alignment. Draft an overview of your offering, your target market, draw the connection between your business and the prospective partner's business. Outline how you envisage reciprocal activities that lead to mutually beneficial business opportunity.

  4. Take the time to find the right partner 'fit'. When considering a business partner ask questions such as:

    • What other offerings are your clients buying before or after they buy from you?
    • Knowing your industry, which businesses would you approach if you had an additional product or service need from a business offering these adjacent products or services - and why?
    • How do your existing clients hear about you now - do any come from other business referrals?
    • What would a potential business partner find appealing about your business assets (both fixed assets and IP)?
    • When you list prospective alliance business partners, consider how you might go about meeting them. Research social media, mutual connections, maybe contact an industry association and request introductions.

  5. Both parties need to cultivate trust and fully appreciate the critical success factor for an effective partnership.

When you find common ground, it's essential to seal the arrangement. Undertake a written agreement only after all issues have been fully canvassed.  Usually, an appropriate business partnership takes time to establish. Quite often activity measurement needs to be agreed upon and monitored to get success.

The business partnership will need to be continually managed on an ongoing basis. It can't be established and left to a project team to operate without continual involvement from the senior management.


The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.
 
The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015 the New Zealand office opened.
 
The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.

Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.



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