This is a confession. I have been stubborn and wanted us to do everything ourselves. Beliefs I have had about our business should have been questioned and changed.
Part of business life is about saying ”no”. But when the ”no” becomes a reflex, based on opinions you acquired without a complete rationale, it is time to examine the ”no” and open up for a ”yes”.
For a long time I was skeptic of partnerships and alliances.
For years we have been approached with partnership suggestions from copy machine dealers, hairdressers (with many important corporate clients) and off course single consultants for “amazingly lucrative" partnership suggestions.
The idea they come up with was usually for them to present our products to their customers and get paid for their job of referral. It was usually pretty unclear and difficult to assess what would happen – when or if something would happen at all. What was going on was basically a lot of enthusiasm, jibber jabber about possibilities, and daydreaming.
This also gave me a blind spot and prevented me from seeing the possibilities of the right kind of alliances.
That is why our partnership with Swedish Fortnox became an aha-experience and profoundly changed me. This made it easy to connect the dots regarding what a truly profitable partnership represents. Today, we deliver our product to hundreds of Fortnox's clients, in a segment we usually don’t work in. Because of shared revenue the set-up process was stress-free for both companies. Naturally, this type of partnership would not be the same with a one-man-company.
Today, we have a CMO that is on the lookout for partners. And I can admit that we should have started this job many years ago – I regret we did not start sooner.
I used to think it is best to grow by 25-30 percent by focusing only on direct sales using an in-house sales team. Now, I know I was right, but that wasn’t the sole way to grow. Partnerships are of course good with the right kind of partner. It can make both of us grow exponentially.
What I learned is that it is it important to have a mutual problem, challenge, or meaningful opportunity that matters equally for both partners. When both partners can see a strategic benefit from collaboration urgency will usually follow. It’s also fuels the motivation to spend time and work together - “we can solve this together.”
Company size also matters because that means time can be spent working with the partnership. Partnering with a company that has 5 employees doesn't make sense for obvious reasons. They physically won’t be able to invest the time needed to make the partnership work due to their size.
It goes without saying that cannibalism is in no one’s interest.
A typical worst case scenario is a small revenue stream for both parties, that is proof that it was reasonable trying to enter into a partnership. That way of thinking gets rid of all the meetings with copy-machine vendors and hair-dressers too.
We are now looking for sales partners among resellers staffed with 30 people and upwards.
In the case of strategic partners, who can add on our service to their services, we are looking for international companies with a turnover of 10 million euros/dollars and upwards.
Our experience from working with Fortnox and the partnership with US-based Looker, with whom we offer our customers Big Data and Business Intelligence, have been successful and an eye opening.
So if you don’t sell copier machines or don’t run a hair salon we are now open for partnerships and alliances.
And yes - today we love our partners as much as our customers.
Part of Business Life is about learning how to say "no", but sometimes you need to reverse engineer a "no" to a "yes.
It can be difficult to see the possibility in a habitual "no". However, being able to see past that is worth it in the long-run.