Business meeting

Six strategies to help your business grow: Forming partnerships


There are few SME owners who don’t harbour ambitions of taking the next step and becoming one of the big boys in their sector, but how should they go about turning that aspiration into a reality? In this set of six articles, we look at tried and tested ways that businesses have successfully managed to bridge this gap. We start with a strategy that’s always changing in pace with the digital world, but will never cease to be crucial in business – leveraging partnerships.

Why build partnerships?

A 2012 study by Business Network SW revealed 87% of businesses actively network. It may not surprise you that the main reasons given for this were to build relationships (95%), look for opportunities (90%) and develop their business (80%), but it’s also notable that 45% said they do it for fun and enjoyment, while personal development (35%) and camaraderie (35%) were strong reasons too. A growing business is a happy one, and forging business partnerships satisfies us in much the same way as forming personal friendships.

Where to start?

Networking in 2015 is truly a multiplatform pursuit, but there’s still no substitute for physically attending events. Signing up with organisations like BNI, 4Networking or even your local chamber of commerce can put you in the direction of a varied range of professionals with whom you’re sure to find business avenues.

Once you’ve struck up a chord with partners, use all the channels available to cement the deal. This includes following their social media channels, but also small memorable touches like sending them your company merchandise and a signed card at Christmas.

A two-way approach

You may feel that your business can stand on its own feet, but the reality is that even global corporations are not wholly self-sufficient, in that they rely on suppliers to keep their day-to-day operations in strong shape.

Using an obvious example, an accountancy firm might strike up deals with firms that provide telephone systems, office equipment, plant and vehicle hire or IT support. What these varied companies all have in common is that they need to keep accurate financial records and set business strategies. If they already supply to and work with an innovative outsourced accountancy firm that they trust, the choice of who to turn to for this becomes a natural one and referrals between the companies can take place.

While major companies can seal partnerships with their finances, for SMEs, it’s a slower journey of building links one by one through reliability and communication. It is a satisfying one though, which hopefully the 13% of businesses that avoid it will find out in due course.