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Can strategic partnerships improve your business’s online presence, help you gain recognition, and attract more leads? Join us today as we answer some of your most pressing questions.
In today’s world, the competitive business market is constantly shifting to accommodate the changing needs of both customers and companies. It’s this ebb and flow, as well as the speed at which things fluctuate, that makes it hard to define a clear-cut recipe for success for any business starting on a new path.
The biz industry is pretty relentless, and growth is a unique process specific to each organization. Oftentimes, business success is directly related to its perception in the public eye. A company’s reputation can indeed make or break the game. And, since online is the most used medium nowadays, this can spread all over the world at lightspeed.
So what’s the solution?
Strategic partnerships may come along down the line to support your business as part of a mutually beneficial agreement.
If you’re an entrepreneur trying to grow your company both online and offline, you need to get all the support possible to see it gradually take off the ground in the way you’ve always dreamed it.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what business development really looks like. And, most importantly, to what makes or breaks the reputation of a company in our current world.
We’ll talk about the most common challenges businesses face in today’s digitized environment and the solutions they can choose to overcome them. But, most importantly, our aim is to focus on one solution at hand that can improve the reputation of a business and help it develop better: strategic partnerships.
Read on as we explore what these partnerships are, what they imply for any business, and how they can support the companies involved. Get a better understanding of how these can help your business to reach the next level.
What Are The Most Common Challenges That Businesses Face?
Although each business walks its own path, most companies could do better by following some tried-and-tested practices. Still know that, at the same time, companies can fail for the same reasons.
Having said this, starting a business may not be as difficult anymore, but seeing it lift off the ground is. As statistics show, a great majority of businesses tend to fail and close up shop after only a few years of being on the market. They may not even get to the point of closing in strategic partnerships before they bid adieu.
But where is it that most businesses stumble and fail on their path to success?
Are there any common points out there that can be easily identifiable and, therefore, avoidable?
What makes the reputation of a business lose its appeal?
As a matter of fact, research indicates there are pointers that show where businesses tend to fail. We’ll elaborate a little bit on each of these, so hopefully, you won’t fall for any of them.
1. Poor Planning
Planning and strategizing is often an overlooked step in developing a business, and it’s often immensely underrated.
Before even thinking of strategic partnerships, businesses need to plan accordingly for themselves. A proper business plan is much more than just a fancy concept that MBA graduates swing around for conversation’s sake.
In fact, a business plan can do more for your business than you can imagine since it gives you guidelines you can follow in the medium and long term while also proposing a timeline for objectives and results.
What’s more, a business plan will also make you define your Unique Value Proposition (UVP.) In other words, it highlights what makes your business stand out from the crowd and what differentiates it from its competitors.
Failing to strategize and plan accordingly will open the door to a chaos that will, sooner or later, have its say regarding the health and course of your business. Unavoidably, the reputation of your business can also fall victim to this.
2. Inflexibility And Stubbornness
Another reason why so many businesses fail within the first year of their activity, regardless if they’ve created any strategic partnerships for themselves or not, is that they refuse to adapt to the knowledge they gain from the market.
In other words, if they notice their service or product simply won’t do much in terms of success, they still stick to it out of pure idealism or ambition, refusing to pivot.
Stubbornness and inflexibility are often the root cause of why so many businesses don’t adapt to new requirements. These requirements may ask businesses to switch to the online environment, take their brand on social media, refine their marketing strategies, revamp their brand image, or replace a product from their portfolio.
Having said this, not recognizing shortcomings and pivoting may result in either a sudden stop of your business or a gradual and agonizing fading out of the market. This is something that not even the best-intended strategic partnerships can save your business from.
3. Improper Budgeting
Regardless of how lofty an entrepreneur’s dream may be, the financial aspect of the business deserves just as much attention as the creative part does. Proper budgeting is crucial for the successful trajectory of any business, especially in its early, more developmental years.
When budgeting for your business, make sure you factor in financial aspects such as:
- Income sources
- Fixed costs
- Variable expenses
- One-time spends
Knowing your business income and expenses and truthfully assessing how frequent these are may set it up for success from the get-go.
Any biz-savvy individual can tell you how important it is to avoid the lack of financial insight, as this will ultimately reflect on your reputation and affect your decision-making capabilities.
4. Inability To Delegate
Small business owners have long been known as the Jacks-of-all-trades, always taking on a multitude of tasks from administrating, budgeting, and strategizing to handling the entire online presence.
The issue here is this is not only draining but also doesn’t allow you, as a business owner, to focus on what you do best. So, try not to see handing over certain tasks — like reputation management — to specialized people as an expense but as an investment that frees up your time to bring in more business.
In the end, this decision will leave you more clear-minded and energized to discover and implement new growth-oriented solutions.
5. Lack Of Insightful Data
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to form an opinion on what goes well and what doesn’t in your business. But it doesn’t mean it’s a correct opinion! This applies to anything from inventory to SEO, content marketing, or social media strategy.
Unfortunately, a lack of insightful data on your company’s position online and offline can deprive you of the opportunity to detect selling patterns. This could ultimately also stop you from creating successful strategic partnerships with businesses that can help you boost your business profit, which would be a shame.
To prevent this from happening, and to get an accurate idea of what your company needs to reach its desired online presence, it’s recommended that you use the right tools and technologies.
For example, an inventory management software or a point of sale system (POS) can help you navigate your sales data until you have a clear picture of what your best and least selling products are.
Business operations can also fail for other reasons, but the ones we mentioned above are the most common. From this standpoint, life doesn’t spare any business owner. However, company owners need to be prepared to try and anticipate whatever challenge may be around the corner.
They need to create proper budgeting and development plans, a targeted online strategy, as well as strategic partnerships that can sustain the company’s healthy and durable development over the coming years.
Creating The Best Solutions
Now that we’ve gone through the core reasons that typically lead to business failure and the downfall of a company’s reputation, let us shed some light on the solutions you can start considering right away.
1. Supervise Cash Flow
We can’t stress this enough! Strictly and accurately supervising cash flow can be your company’s lifeboat. Keeping a close eye on both income and expenses will help you balance both cash flows.
Once you have your strategic partnerships going, it’s paramount to keep a tight grip on your cash flow, or otherwise, these partnerships won’t achieve their purpose.
Investing in understanding the basics of accounting and bookkeeping will also help you get a clearer picture of the financial status of your company, enabling you to make better decisions. A failure to do so will also gradually boomerang back to your company’s reputation.
2. Nurture Your Customers
A business cannot exist without its customers, so, obviously, nurturing your customers should be among your top priorities.
Customers are the ones that drive profit to your business and the ones that allow it to thrive, which, in turn, enables you to create a strategic path as the brilliant entrepreneur you’ve always wanted to be.
To get to the next level and form important strategic partnerships that boast plenty of benefits, you first need to secure at least a modest, yet steady online customer base.
Building a solid customer base is certainly no easy feat, but it is doable. The ways for you to gain recognition and inspire loyalty among your customers are various. These range from posting content to having a consistent presence on social platforms, addressing your customers’ concerns asap, and handling reviews, to tailoring your products and services to meet your audience’s needs.
The key takeaway is that customers are, before anything else, people and need to be seen as such. They need to be listened to, seen, acknowledged, and taken into consideration. As long as you maintain this earnest perspective, your customer base should start to steadily increase, contributing to a great brand reputation.
3. Form Strategic Partnerships
They say you run faster alone, but you get further with the right partner by your side.
This principle is even better exemplified in the business world, where you can develop further and perform better when forming smart partnerships.
Forming strategic partnerships enable you to come together with other brands or business leaders to create a course of action that benefits you both. Finding peers you admire in your own industry and then settling on specific agreements with them will help improve both businesses — a golden opportunity you shouldn’t skip on as an entrepreneur.
What’s more, it can also greatly improve the online reputation of both your companies by building each other up. This way, their expertise and your own can blend together under the form of a strategic alliance formalized through a contract or an agreement.
The structure and terms of such a partnership can be clearly defined to a T by both of you and sealed in a concise legal form.
4. Create a Solid Business Plan
As mentioned before, there’s no going forward for a business without having created a solid business plan that outlines and strengthens the path ahead. A business plan should not only talk about the company’s objectives. It can also include dates, an outlined marketing plan, and expected dates for achievements.
However, it should also lay out the scenario in case of needing to apply a contingency plan in case something goes wrong.
What’s more, if you want to reap the full benefits of creating strategic partnerships, you need to have a solid business plan at hand. This will help build your credibility as a partner and let your business allies know what your company’s status is. The only way to have a joint mission and work on it is for each party involved to have a well-crafted and solid business outlined.
Having said this, just as businesses face many challenges, they also can potentially find and create the best solutions for these. And these can, sometimes, be downright creative. There’s virtually no end to the creativity you can infuse into your business approach and see how things can easily get mended.
However, even though solutions may be there, at the horizon, implementing them may require an effort that’s perhaps larger than you could offer in turn. And this is exactly where strategic partnerships come in handy.
What Is The Role Of a Strategic Partner?
A strategic partner can be a business leader, mentor, or influencer that you partner with and who can be included in key conversations about the future of your company, its goals, mission, and overall development strategy. They will become equal when having these conversations and will have just as much to say regarding the company’s future direction as you will, as a business owner. This is, in fact, what lies at the core of strategic partnerships.
It’s safe to say that these types of alliances should and will almost always yield the following benefits:
Creating a strategic partnership means having a relationship that’s built on joint resources, which means better funding than your company would otherwise have when flying solo.
Increasing Brand Awareness
When you partner with another company, you can very well make good use of their brand recognition on the market to increase your own as well. It’s the famous ‘halo’ effect many talk about, and you can bask in it, as well. Your partner’s customers will soon take notice of your services through your sheer vicinity to their favorite brand.
It would really be a lie to say that strategic partnerships are not heavily focused on increasing revenue because they are. Thankfully, they can be very good at it too, as long as both organizations agree on the best means to monetize assets and intellectual property.
This purpose of a strategic relationship is also related to the previous point we’ve addressed in this article. Although not always strictly necessary, to increase its profit, a company also needs to grow its online audience.
By partnering with a powerful peer, you get to expand your own reach by borrowing some of theirs. It’s a process that happens naturally, and the results are bound to be long-lasting.
In the same vein, it can happen that a company has perhaps chipped its online reputation a bit but has partnered with another company that’s very well viewed on the market. In this case, you can be sure the reputation of the less-favored company will soon step into a different, brighter light.
How Do Strategic Partnerships Work?
Strategic partnerships are relationships that are purposefully created between two companies, especially when they need to acquire new capabilities within their existing businesses. The two partners agree to make ongoing contributions in the key business areas they feel need their attention for both companies to develop as desired.
Such a partnership does not bind the partners together and does not entail a hierarchy system between them. Instead, the two partners are exactly what the title suggests: partners with equal rights. They each get to remain independent and will share both benefits and risks in their joint actions.
Of course, this is not a fixed concept, as a collaboration as such can take different forms depending on what both companies wish to accomplish.
As we’ve said before, the reputation of a company has plenty of influence on how quickly it grows its audience and how potent its income flow can become. An often unseen and less talked about the benefit of strategic partnerships is that they can quickly turn a company’s reputation around for the better.
By partnering with a peer you admire in your own industry that’s also well regarded in the market, you can positively impact your company’s reputation.
3 Types Of Strategic Partnerships
To understand what a strategic partnership can bring to the table, it’s important to also see what kinds of relationships exist. Over time, these types have emerged:
1. Joint Venture
The joint venture is perhaps the most well-known type of strategic partnership there is out there. It gained such popularity because it’s pretty straightforward: Company A and Company B come together to form a third company, Company C, which is their “child” venture.
If each of these parent companies own 50% of the child company, then their partnership is called a joint venture. If the ratio is 70% – 30% though, the joint venture will be classified as a majority-owned venture.
Joint Ventures are one of the most successful marketing tools in history and are often one of the fastest ways to grow your online presence and start making money online. Not to mention they have often been the key to the successful domination of many markets.
However, a joint venture is only one of the three different types of strategic partnerships we’ll discuss today.
So let’s see what the other two are.
2. Equity Strategic Alliance
When it comes to strategic alliances, it’s important we also mention the equity strategic alliance, which is created when one company purchases a certain equity percentage of the other company. This is a pretty straightforward type of business relationship.
3. Non-Equity Strategic Alliance
This type of alliance implies that two or more companies sign a contractual relationship to pool their resources and capabilities together. In this case, no other separate business is created, such as in the case of a joint venture. The purpose of this alliance is to create an advantage in production, marketing, development, and research.
Most companies have extensive knowledge in only one marketing technique such as content, email, social media, or inbound. So, find partners that can contribute something new and relevant to the relationship and leverage their expertise to boost the quality of your content and outreach efforts.
The best alliances are built on a foundation of honesty. Keep communication a priority to reap the benefits.
How Do You Measure The Value Of a Strategic Partnership?
In its initial stages, strategic partnerships are not difficult to achieve at all. With a bit of research and perseverance, any reasonably established company can initiate a strategic partnership with another organization, influencer, or affiliate marketer.
However, just by initiating one and contacting an industry peer you admire doesn’t mean that your strategic partnership is truly valuable and meeting expectations.
All in all, a strategic partnership is created so the companies can share market access, staff and teams, resources, and intellectual property. So, how do you really measure the value of a strategic partnership? How do you know your deal with another company or individual is benefiting both and meeting your goals?
The takeaway here is that strategic partnerships can very well be measured by taking two key metrics into consideration: strategic and financial metrics.
Assessing The Financial Value Of a Strategic Partnership
The financial value is tangible and can include any of the following:
- Generated leads
- Increases in customer value
- Increased transaction frequency or value
- Increased costs savings
When in a strategic partnership with one another, companies can agree to share financial statements with each other to identify relevant financial data that can determine their progress.
A financial assessment is an “easier” task to achieve since it’s a kind of value that you can take in at face value. Numbers don’t lie and can be clearly compared to anticipated results.
Assessing The Strategic Value Of a Strategic Partnership
While the financial value of a strategic partnership is easier to assess, evaluating the actual strategic value of a strategic partnership is a bit different.
When we’re talking about strategic value, we can take into consideration aspects like:
- Future value
- Competitive advantage
- Brand leverage
- Access to key assets
It’s safe to say the financial value of a strategic partnership has a powerful impact on the business, but an even greater impact still is given by the strategic value of said partnership.
All these aspects and many more that fall under the strategic value category may also have a greater impact on the reputation of the businesses involved.
Once you’ve assessed these two components of your strategic partnership and found they’re beneficial, you can rest assured this venture will improve the reputation of your brand.
How Do You Choose The Right Strategic Online Partner?
In life, choices can be more or less inspired and need all our attention so we can really optimize results. This applies even more to the business environment, where decisions need to be carefully weighed in. This way, companies can minimize risk and increase potential benefits.
When choosing the right strategic online partner, you need to look at a series of factors to ensure you are embarking on a fruitful journey. Companies should look at one another’s organizational culture, followers, and online presence and decide whether what they discover is a match.
Apart from this, they should also take into consideration the partner’s appetite for risk. If there’s a mismatch between the two on this, the alliance may not succeed.
Potential partners must work together to discover what they can bring to the table, what joint objectives they have, and how they can achieve these goals. Once they’ve done this, they’ll need to be firm about their commitment to one another as long as they’ve agreed to pursue the same road as partners.
How Else Can You Improve The Reputation Of Your Business?
A well-thought strategic partnership can definitely help boost the reputation of your business. Still, this is not the only way to do so. Much of any company’s reputation nowadays is closely linked to its online presence with all it entails: content, social media, SEO, review management, and so on. And we know this better than anyone!
This is why, here at NetReputation.com, we specialize in protecting and improving your online reputation by offering you Online Reputation Management Services that deliver results. Our process is made up of five different stages:
The changes we can bring to your company’s reputation won’t happen overnight, but they will be highly impactful and long-lasting. Our focus is to develop unbeatable content, expert development, and unmatched online promotion, so your business can build the reputation it deserves.
If you also want to improve the online reputation of your business and make it stand out, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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