Strategies for Partnering Bigger Brands

Anton Ioffe - September 11th 2020 - 4 minutes read

The number of new startups is on the rise. Over 660,000 companies are registered in the UK yearly. This figure should not scare you if you're a newbie entrepreneur; instead, it should be a motivation to grow.

The market is competitive, and every business is competing for customers, investors, and media attention. Would you fold your hands while your competitors get it all? Startups have the option of partnerships. As you grow in your trade, you need a bigger brand to make up for your inadequacies.

If they must join forces with you, you need to brace up because it wouldn't come on a platter. The worst thing you want to do is to enter into a partnership blindly. This article does not concern itself with blind partnerships but tips to help you partner more prominent brands successfully.

Before you sit on the negotiating table with a prospective partner, here are some things you should know:

1.  Define the partnership

Creating a partnership for the sake of making a name would not yield any positive results. Regardless of how juicy the offer sounds, you should have a stance and be ready to stand by it. Some more prominent brands are dubious and may want to take advantage of your desperation.

When you show desperation, you're only passing a message that "anything goes." A partnership should favor both parties, and when it doesn't, something is wrong. When you have a partnership goal, you can source for a willing partner who shares a similar purpose.

Focus on the aspect of your business that needs help so that the partnership strengthens it. And as for your strength, it should rub off on the partnership's new strategy. When you have defined the outcome, you're good to go.

2.  Bring something valuable to the table.

The negotiating table comprises two parties who are committed to expanding their network. The bigger brands may have it all, but something is lacking, which is why they opted in for collaboration.

What problem was your startup set up to solve? Bring the solution to the table and see how it helps the bigger brand. Don't think that a successful company has everything figured out. If things were perfect, they would do it all alone.

These established companies help startups and expect something in return. Have a brainstorming session with team members to come up with the insights to unlocking the partnership opportunity.

3.  Be patient

It's heartbreaking to wait for several weeks or months before a deal is finalized. In most cases, startups want to call off the partnership because of the bottlenecks involved. Bigger brands have a management hierarchy, unlike startups, and the decision-making process is slow.

Each step requires scrutiny from the hierarchy, and the entrepreneur may not find this funny. When it comes to striking that deal that catapults your business from one level to another, it is never too late. Establish deadlines and send reminders to them so that they adjust their timetable.

Communicate with them regularly so that they keep you abreast of the changes. Look at the future of your startup and what it stands to gain from a huge collaboration. This should motivate you enough to remain patient.

4.  Build on existing partnerships

Even if you hit a favorable gig with a partner, don't be in a hurry to search for the next big fish. Startups with proven growth rates are known for keeping relationships with former partners. The ties should linger for as long as the business exists.

Smaller companies have a lot to benefit from long-term relationships. The next time bigger businesses need more hands to actualize their goals, they beckon on you for your expertise. There is also a higher chance that you'll be recommended for future gigs.

When you chase after new clients and jettison old ones, it affects your business in countless ways you can't imagine. The popular saying that the devil you know is better than the angel you don't know plays out here. Treat old partners as part of your new family and be of service whenever they need you.

5.  Cultivate trust

Bigger brands already have a name and legacy to protect and would not let it go down the drain. The onus now lies on you to be a trustworthy partner. A partnership is a risky venture that involves two or more businesses with various ideologies coming together to achieve a goal.

There would always be a difference in working culture and style, but with trust, everything is possible. Smaller businesses have a lot to lose when they breach the terms of the agreement. It makes the more prominent companies lose faith in them and eventually call off the present and future collaboration.

Trust does not come out of the blues. Your actions, to no small extent, determine if you should be trusted or not. When you sit on the negotiating table, let your yes be yes and no, remain no.

6.  Find an advocate

Sometimes, persuasion does not work for these bigger brands. Since you're a beginner, getting them to trust you with their resources could be a hard nut to crack. Instead of approaching the management directly, you can contact an insider to negotiate the terms.

Do online research to find out people who work with the organization you're interested in and establish talks with them. Reach out to them and do your best to prove your worth. If they'll speak for you before the management, you surely have to convince them well enough.

After you have successfully sold your ideas to them, they can put in kind words for you, which could land you your next big gig. If you have tried reaching out directly, try this strategy, and see how things would play out.

There are no hard and fast rules for growing a startup. That said, partnerships are one way to scale up the business ladder, but it's not as easy as it sounds. It's a win-win situation if things turn outright, and so, a purposeful partnership is worth trying. Take a clue from the patient dog and stay positive even when it's taking the time.

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