Aligning for growth

I know the guys who put the Smarter Macarthur magazine together and to be honest, I’m surprised they keep producing such a great high quality publication. Why? because I know none of them could pull it off by themselves but by working together they keep achieving at a much higher level than they can individually, which makes Smarter Macarthur a perfect example of a Strategic Alliance (SA).

SA’s are a great way for your business to fill the gaps and achieve things you couldn’t do on your own such as, produce a high level business magazine like Smarter Macarthur. Most businesses don’t grow because they don’t have the resources they need (staff, expertise, network, equipment etc) or the cash to buy it in. That’s when SA’s come in.

“A strategic alliance is a cooperation between two or more entities with the aim to achieve a result one of the parties could not easily achieve alone.”

They are ‘strategic’ because there is a clear outcome in mind and allies are sought who can bring the resources to achieve that outcome. Therefore each party must know;

– What they bring to the alliance

– What others bring to the alliance, and

– The outcome of the alliance

By partnering with another business you can;

– Scale more quickly

– Increase Depth – of experience and knowledge

– Reduce your risk – less expenditure, loans, leases etc

– Increase Your Network – leverage your partners

– Reduce Your Costs – less investment required

– Increase Your Clout –combining resources enables higher level marketing campaigns

– Play a Bigger Game – with several alliance partners onside you can compete for larger clients and service bigger markets

A prime SA example is airlines. You can now book with Qantas and travel on a number of different airlines to just about anywhere in the world with all the benefits of booking with a single airline. These inter-airline SA’s have revolutionised air travel, expanded airlines offerings and given a lot of benefit to the consumer.

Common small business alliances can be seen within industry groups:

• Finance – accountants, financial advisors, mortgage brokers, insurance

• Building – architects, builders, plumbers, designers, furnishing suppliers

• Property – developers, real estate, conveyancers, trades Other examples could involve businesses;

– targeting the same demographic

– wanting to provide greater geographical coverage

– aligning to provide a full service/product suite to the customer

A SA can be as simple as a few businesses agreeing to provide content for each other’s email newsletters or as complex as international airlines partnering.

Developing a Strategic Alliance

The first thing is to know where do you want your business to be in 3 years time?

Then

1. Identify the gaps you need to fill to get there – knowledge, experience, market access, equipment

2. Research potential partners who can fill these gaps

3. Approach and Discuss – what do you both want to achieve and how it can work as a win-win

4. Negotiate an Agreement

5. Establish a Governance Model – how will you deal with the various issues that will come eg disagreements

6. Begin, review and adjust as required

Building strategic alliances makes you each become more efficient, profitable and ahead of your competitors. This in turn enables you to grow and play a much bigger game than you could on your own.

If you need help developing SA’s drop me a line and let me know your vision, I may be able to point you in the right direction, so long as you’re not planning a new business magazine in the Macarthur.

Work Smart & Prosper.

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Grant Dempsey
Grant is a passionate supporter of small business and small business owners. Having started and run several businesses he is well aware that owning a small business is no small task. He has experienced the complexities and challenges of having to wear multiple hats while juggling numerous balls, maxing out the credit card to make payroll and wondering if there is more to it all than existing to pay the bank, the landlord and the staff. As an avid reader and networker, and by drawing on his ‘on the job’ experience he is well placed to help business owners build and maintain the clarity and motivation to push through the uncertainty and fragility that many small businesses experience. p. 0448 026 644