Every success I’ve had in business has been the result of being able to find the right partner. Suppliers, financiers, professional advisers, joint-venture partners and many more have all played a critical role in my ability to build and lead businesses ranging from well established brands such as Dun & Bradstreet Israel through to the most exciting of start-ups such as Powerlinx.
Indeed the birth of Powerlinx was a result of my growing realization that being able to find the right partner was central to my success and that perhaps there was a way to bring some structure and big data analytics to what is typically an uncertain and time-consuming process. And as I listened to more and more business leaders from firms both big and small I came to understand that business partnerships were a high priority for just about everyone. However, they often failed because the process of finding the right partner was just too difficult.
These observations on the importance of strategic partnerships are supported by the early findings of research we are conducting with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and the Business Performance & Innovation (BPI) Network. Among other things we learned that:
- Nearly all business leaders believe strategic partnerships are important to their future business success
- The key drivers for being able to find the right partner include the search for new ideas, insights and innovations; filling an internal skill gap; and reaching new markets
- Nearly two-thirds of business leaders want to develop a strategy and targeted approach for improving networking, partnering and sourcing of growth opportunities
But we also learned that most businesses had little idea about how to find the right partner and develop a successful relationship. In particular, we learned that:
- Nearly half of all business leaders believe their company is not very good at building successful partnerships
- Less than half of business leaders rate their ability to identify, qualify and secure partnerships as good or extremely good
When we began to look at why so many businesses have such little success with the ability to find the right partner, we realized that it was all about the match and having clearly defined goals. The top three reasons given by business leaders for their lack of success include finding and reaching the right partner and keeping partnerships active and mutually rewarding. And critically over two-thirds of business leaders had come to the view that there must be a better way.
This was the same observation my partners and I had come to – there must be a better way. It surprised me that while the Internet had disrupted and changed so many industries it had made so little impact on the task of finding the right strategic partners. There were many sites that could give you a list of suppliers or advisers but there was no one who could help you gain some real insight into which of those firms would really be the right partner for you.
And so we set off on a journey to try and find a solution. We are only a few months down the road but already we are showing that there is a better way by using artificial intelligence, our unique business intent clarification engine and going the extra mile to truly understand each customer’s business objective. The result is the creation of ‘radical efficiency’ for a process that once took months.
Our success will be determined at some point in the not too distant future, but in the meantime I’m enjoying being at the forefront of solving one of the most vexing business challenges – how to grow with the right business partner. As for advice on finding the right life partner, well, that’s a post for another time!
What is your experience with building strategic partnerships? What are the biggest challenges, and what is the key to making them successful?