In this episode of the Exit Mindset, we join Rem Oculee, the Founder and CEO of Confidence Wealth Management, as he discusses how to build strategic partnerships and incorporate the Exit Mindset in your business.
It’s vital to have strategic partnerships to help your business. However, setting up these relationships takes a great deal of time and effort. It also takes a lot of thinking.
We all have the ability to think, but sometimes we get sidetracked by our own negative outlook. Perhaps you look at something and think, “that would never work.” While this is not the right mindset to have, you also don’t want to go too far in the opposite direction. If you assume that something will work before analyzing its actual workability, you risk taking a delusional perspective.
Remember that the human brain will play tricks on you. So, when it comes to strategic partnerships, you have to figure out what’s real and what’s not. You need to identify the best relationships to provide you with the most leverage, value, and profitability.
Finding the Right Strategic Partnership for You
If you reach out to people to learn about their strategic partnerships, you’ll get a better understanding of what you could be doing to improve your business. Sometimes, you’ll talk with someone and they’ll tell you about their strategic relationship with so-and-so. You may think, “that’s a good relationship, but maybe I should work with someone else in a similar way.” You can learn a lot from other businesses, but you’ll often find that you shouldn’t implement the exact same idea, but rather a variation on their idea that fits your needs.
So, when it comes to strategic partnerships, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Your partnerships are going to differ from the next business. That’s how it should be. If you’re copying everything that another business is doing, you’re not creating anything of value.
Building Strategic Partnerships With the Exit Mindset
How do strategic partnerships work in relation to the Exit Mindset? They fall under the category of “infrastructure.” Infrastructure refers to anything you do to make your product or enhance the process of selling and supporting your product.
So, let’s look at your business from the perspective of a potential buyer. In addition to other components of your business, a buyer will look to see if you have a strategic partnership with someone.
Let’s say that you do. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship; you’re helping them and they’re helping you. The relationship is solid and provides a continuous stream of revenue to supplement your other business activities.
When a prospective buyer sees that kind of relationship, they will see more value in your company. It’s easy to get stuck on the inside looking out; you try to figure out how to attain strategic partnerships as a business owner, rather than looking at the situation as a potential buyer of your company. What kind of partnership would a potential buyer of your company find impressive? What kind of relationship would appear intelligent, effective, and able to deliver results to a prospective buyer?
Once you get to this level of thinking, you’re able to see the forest, rather than just individual trees; you’re getting the big picture and thinking more clearly. This is the ultimate objective of the Exit Mindset. It takes you outside of your company and gives you the perspective of a potential buyer.
How to Think Like a Buyer
Stepping outside your company as an “objective observer” is extremely difficult. More often than not, you’re too stuck in the day-to-day issues of your business to really be 100% objective. To make things easier, build your business with the mindset of someone who wants to purchase your company. If you can imagine being someone who wants to buy a company, you can put yourself in the shoes of someone who wants to buy your company.
That said, if you’re still struggling to put yourself in that position, you can change the perspective a little bit. Imagine that you want to buy a company similar to yours, like a competitor. You probably know some of your competitors, so you already have the perspective of an outsider looking in.
Just imagine for a moment that you’re going to buy your competitor’s company. How would you evaluate it? This exercise will help you find new ways to look at your own company and create a better model for your business.
Finally, let’s look at one last scenario. Let’s say that a competitor makes an offer to buy your company. Would you want your competitor to undervalue your company? Of course not! However, if you put yourself in their shoes, you might find parts of your business that could be improved. This shows you that there are many different ways to look at your company from the outside; the important thing is that you find a way that works for you.
Playing the Long Game With Strategic Partnerships
The way you find a new perspective isn’t the point of these exercises; the end result is what really matters. This is one important aspect of the Exit Mindset. It is a results-oriented way of thinking. You’re trying to find tangible ways to improve your company from a buyer’s perspective.
So, now let’s move back to strategic partnerships and alliances. You have to use the same methodology to get the results you want. What would your competitor or another buyer say about your strategic partnerships? If you were in their shoes, how would your business’s strategic partnerships add or take away value from your company?
If you have no strategic alliances, then you probably need to reevaluate your approach. You need to invest time and effort to gain beneficial partnerships. To get this process going, you just have to think about it. Just think about the kind of partnerships that would benefit your business. Don’t assume that your first idea or conclusion is the best. Continue to examine and reexamine your options until you find the best solution for you.
A Strategic Partnership Benefits Both Sides, But It Requires Sacrifice
It’s important to remember that strategic partnerships can’t be one-sided. You can’t give 100% and get nothing in return; that’s not a relationship. A relationship involves two sides that are engaged with each other in a sincere, productive, and mutually-beneficial way.
However, to get to that point, you have to give something without expectations. Naturally, you will have expectations that the relationship will yield results at some point, but you shouldn’t expect your investment to pay off quickly. If you try to start off a strategic relationship proposal by making requests, you’re probably going to be disappointed. To be successful, you have to lead the way by giving something to the other side. When you do this, you’ll find that the other side is often much more willing to work with you.
That said, you shouldn’t just give without thinking. Instead, you have to be strategic about what you’re doing and assess the potential results. If you don’t get anything in return from the start, will that change at some point? Can you encourage the other side to engage with you or help you in some way? Ask yourself these questions before making a proposal.
How to Make a Strategic Partnership Proposal
First and foremost, evaluate what the other side is doing and have a plan in place. For example, let’s say that you have a product. There is a business in another industry that sells a different product, though it is complementary to what you sell. You think that working together with this business could help you accomplish more than you would without their help.
Once you’ve identified this opportunity, you need to be the one who makes the first move. You need to go to them with a solution in mind. So, when you start your strategic partnership proposal, you have to have a model for what it would look like. In the end, you have to show them how you can help them and, by default, how they can help you.
Even if you go in with this approach, you’ll always find some people who simply aren’t open to partnerships. You’ll have to get through a lot of dead ends to find the strategic partners who will ultimately work with you. How can you do this? You must continuously search. Don’t give up just because you haven’t found one yet.
Strategic Partnerships in the Time of COVID-19
Many businesses that couldn’t find the time or resources to seek out strategic partnerships before COVID-19 are now suddenly investing in them. Why? One simple word: adversity. Sometimes, humans need to experience real adversity to discover their true potential.
If you’re like these companies and find that you’re able to pull the rabbit it out of the hat now that times are tough, this should be a wake-up call for you. How were you able to do it in spite of all the adversity? Why didn’t you do it before COVID-19? These questions will help you improve your model going forward.
Instead of trying to focus on every aspect of your business at once, focus on your strategic partnerships today. How many strategic partnerships do you have? If the answer is zero, keep thinking and working on a solution until you can bring that number up to one.
If you’re struggling to come up with new ideas, don’t get frustrated. Take a walk, clear your mind, and come back to the issue at hand when you’re ready. Look through your existing contacts to find any potential leads. Look at your bills. Call your vendors and ask, “who should I partner up with? Who should I talk to? Who are some of your recent strategic alliances?”
Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll find that there are plenty of strategic partnerships out there; you just have to find them and make the first move. In all likelihood, you won’t have success at first. You just have to keep trying until you get what you want.
The Bottom Line
Bringing strategic partnerships into your business isn’t just a destination; it’s a journey. You need to focus on this journey. In the end, that’s what separates winners from everyone else. The winners focus on the journey and the importance of strategic partnerships. You must have a destination in mind, but ultimately, you need to focus on how you’re going to get there. Remember: action is everything. Use it or lose it.