In the Trenches: Evaluating Partnerships
I suppose it's a good thing that we've been getting a lot of inquiries about potential partnerships from other businesses lately. That just means that there's greater awareness around our business and people want to be associated with it. But getting inquiries like these creates an another issue. It takes a lot of effort to figure out what's a worthwhile partnership and what's not.
I'm always willing to listen to any partnership idea (except for those that require sending money to a Nigerian prince), because you never know when it can turn into something huge. But I do find that most inquiries are hollow requests at best. A lot of people seem to think that a partnership with our company will get them a mention in our blog, and that's their real goal. Ones that are that shallow immediately get sent to the trash.
That being said, there have been a few that have caught my eye. So what is it that gets me interested? I'd say there are really three things that grab me.
- The businesses need to be compatible. Sometimes, people propose partnerships when our businesses have tenuous connections at best. For it to really work, there needs to be a good connection that will allow us both to do better by coming together.
- There has to be shared risk and reward. If there is risk, it can't fall solely on one side. This reminds me of the people who send out emails saying that if we put a huge ad of theirs on our site, then they'll give us a tiny commission for any sales we generate. I wouldn't even call that a partnership, but it illustrates the problem well. I don't go for those kind of things.
- Lastly, the person running the other business has to be trustworthy. Now, you never know about that for sure, but you can get a good feeling for someone pretty quickly. And most of the time, the feeling I get when someone proposes something isn't good.
Using those three guides, I find I can very quickly narrow the field of potential partners to a small handful. That's a good thing, and it's helped me to focus on those that might matter. In fact, we're working on one right now that fits the bill quite nicely.