If you're building a brand all alone, you've probably found yourself thinking, wouldn't it be nice to have business partner?
Or, maybe you've thought, how much more could I grow my brand if I created a joint venture with another brand?
Just the fact that you're having these thoughts is great news. It means that you're open to change and that you're looking ahead and planning for growth.
However, as you move forward, I want to warn you about the most common mistake I see being made in joint ventures and business partnerships: The Comfort Zone.
You see, when brand builders look for these types of associates, they have a tendency to choose people with whom they're comfortable. They choose those whom they feel they can work well with and with whom they have a lot in common.
And right there is the problem.
When you're choosing that person, it's crucial that you pick someone who will challenge you, whom you feel is 'out of your league' and who—dare I say it?—makes you feel uncomfortable.
Now, I'm not talking about 'this guy might be a stalker' kind of uncomfortable. I'm talking about 'I don't know if I have what it takes to support my end of the deal' kind of uncomfortable.
Because without forcing yourself to expand outside your comfort zone, you will never grow. And if you never grow, your business will stagnate, too.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you choose a business partner on your level (or beneath your level), your brand will suffer—so much, that it would have been better off without the partnership or joint venture.
By now you might be thinking that means the other person is getting a bad deal because they're above my skill level. That's not true at all. You judge others' capabilities based on what you can and can't do (which usually means that those who excel in areas where you struggle gain your utmost respect). Others see you the same way. You possess a unique skillset and repertoire of talents…talents that seem bigger-than-life to those who don't have them.
That means finding a partner who has what you haven't got (and who hasn't got what you've got) is the perfect scenario for everyone involved—including your customers.
So how can you go about finding this person?
That's precisely what you're about to find out.
The Right Way to Find a Business Partner
I hope by now that you're starting to view your search for the right partner in a new light.
I suspect that like most, you've been looking for someone just like you…because until now, things have been going well. So why change anything?
I would say yes, look for someone who shares your corporate values, so that the messages put forth are cohesive; however, that's where your similarities should end. The two of you should specialise in different areas, have divergent passions and unique (but complementary) goals.
Here's how I suggest you go about finding that person:
- Make a List of your Weaknesses. These are the things you'll be on the lookout for in other business people. They are the things you will appreciate being brought into your venture, as well as the things that will fill out your customer relations and services so that no gaps are felt.
- Make a List of Your Strengths. These are the assets that potential partners will be looking for. Develop ways of demonstrating those strengths…not just talking about them.
- Join an Online Entrepreneurs' Group. Take note of who demonstrates the skills you're looking for, and who has great rapport and respect within the group. Lots of interaction and communication with members is important, too. Remember that you're not just bringing on a partner, you're bringing on their list of connections and their reputation, too. And don't forget to demonstrate your expertise and strengths; others are looking for a business partner just like you. Start today by joining the How to Build a Brand group. It's FREE!
- Avoid YES People. It can be tempting to partner with someone you think will bow to your every whim and go along with the flow you've established (or plan to establish). This isn't always the best thing for the future of your business. You need someone who will ask questions, challenge the status quo and force you to look at your business from the outside (because right now, your opinions are limited to your view from inside the bubble). I'm not suggesting that you partner with someone who will start a new argument every day; however, I am recommending that you constantly challenge each other to grow…for the betterment of the brand(s).
- Avoid Fast Talkers. I would hate for you to get caught up in a fast talker's personal sales pitch, only to realise after it's too late that there's no action to back up all that talk. Demand to see proof of everything he or she is claiming. Seek out third-party recommendations and reviews of their work. Be as objective as possible, seeking to uncover misrepresentations now, before it's too late.
- Move toward Fear. Again, this isn't about striving to partner with a creep. It's about pushing yourself to start conversations with business people who intimidate you. If they've got something spectacular enough to make you go weak in the knees, just image what they'll bring to your brand. And don't discount your own gifts; chances are they're going to be equally enamoured with you.
Just as you must create an avatar of your ideal customer, you must have a clear picture of who your ideal business partner is before you begin your search. Decide what your brand already has, what it needs, where you want it go...and with the help of the points above, set out to find the perfect business partner.
If you want to learn to build your brand whilst networking with some of the world's most capable entrepreneurs and business owners, I would suggest looking into the Brand Builders Club. It's the place where freedom-focussed business people are going to learn how to build their purpose-driven brands, to network on an international level, to participate in masterminds with global experts, to start joint ventures and more. Simply email [email protected] and we'll schedule a call to determine if the club is a good fit for you, or click here to attend an upcoming Brand Builders Bootcamp, where you'll get to observe and participate in strategy sessions, hot seats and so much more.