Lately, a new trend is emerging: more and more companies are talking about sustainable development, circular economy, and giving back to the community. Hearing this makes me happy.

When we talk about sustainability, everyone thinks about the environment. Some may also think about human rights. I encourage you to go even deeper than that.

I want you to think about human interaction, namely about the interaction you have with your clients and your competitors. Now, imagine: instead of spending time, energy, and resources demonstrating you are better than your competitors, you start cooperating with them. Instead of racking your brain to brainstorm new and innovative ways to present your service or product in a different manner than your competitors, you work together with them to deliver something better to your clients. I know, I know, I am a dreamer. This will never happen for several reasons. Plus, some competition is healthy.

However, my point still stands. How about instead of focusing on how we differ from our competitors, we center our energy in finding ways to bring more value. Instead of focusing on finding reasons why our competitors are not as good as us, we use what they do differently to make our products and services better?

An accessible way to do this is through Strategic Partnerships. This is not a new concept. Strategic partnerships have been used for centuries. However, sometimes companies do not utilize them, or at least not to the full potential, especially small companies, who, I believe, need strategic partnerships even more than big corporates.

What do I mean when I talk about strategic partnerships? The association and collaboration between two companies who are active in the same market and have complementary products or services.

I love strategic partnerships! If you are a small company, you can only benefit from them. Just think about the advantages. Strategic partnerships:

  • Provide more value to your clients
  • Reduce spending
  • Help you leverage your profits
  • Ensure you are no longer alone, that you become part of a community
  • Enable access to a larger audience
  • Allow you to spend less time on specific activities because the workload is shared with someone else

Looking at the perks, you may ask why you aren’t engaging in Strategic Partnerships already.

Well, we can’t change the past, but we can plan for a different future.

Sagar Rana

Not sure where to start?

Grab a pen and paper, open a Word document on your computer, or grab your phone and start writing:

  • What services or products could complement your own. For instance, think of a yoga studio that also sells yoga mats produced by someone else.
  • What companies could be considered borderline competitors? For example, another yoga teacher. How about instead of saying you are better than him, you invite him to join your studio? That will bring more value to your students and a possible competitor thus becomes a partner.
  • Products or services that are not so obvious. The best example of this type of partnership is GoPro and Red Bull and the “Stratos” campaign or Alexander Wang and H&M limited-time collection, where the store is offering high-end fashion brand items to drive people into their stores and support their brand positioning as a trendy fashion destination.

Once you have this information, start jotting down the names of the companies that could provide these complementary services or products. After you have this outlined, it is just a matter of contacting them and presenting your idea. You can see it as a pitch, but less intimidating or scary because what you are proposing is the creation of something better and sustainable.

Now it’s time to start working on your list. Keep in mind it is sometimes better to work with your competitors than against them.