SCORE

Whether your business is brand-new or a long-running venture, it’s important to recognize that it’s impossible to accomplish all your business dreams alone. You need partners to help you along the way.

What kind of partner is right for you? It depends on your business goals. If you need additional knowledge and industry expertise, you might want to bring on a formal business partner. If you need additional financial capacity, it could be time to seek a funding partner. If you’re working to increase brand awareness in your community or industry, a strategic partnership may be your best path to sustainable growth.

Performing a SWOT analysis will help you determine which type of partner could provide the best support to your business. Once you’ve determined your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, consider how each of the following types of partners could help your business grow.

Business Partners

A traditional business partner is another person who can step in to make progress in the weaker areas of your business knowledge. Hate math and statistics? It might be time to enlist a partner to serve in the CFO role. Not sure how to increase your manufacturing schedule? Bringing a partner with experience in logistics on board could be just the thing your business needs.

Don’t just recruit a friend who wants a piece of your business pie. Take time and diligence to vet potential partners’ experience, work ethic, and references. A great business partnership is one that focuses on meeting goals, leveraging resources, and communicating clearly.

If you’re thinking of bringing on a formal business partner, take time to research the legal implications that may come into play.

Neighbors

Partners aren’t just the people who work in your business -- they might work nearby. Think of complementary businesses in your city. Can working together help you both reap the benefits?

Say, for example, you own a dog grooming salon. There’s a popular organic pet food store a few blocks away. Instead of seeing another pet-focused business as a competitor, the pet food store is really an ally. If your two businesses can work together strategically to host special events and promotions, you may be able to increase revenue for both your businesses.

You may not need a formal contract for this type of community partnership, but be sure to list each business’s basic responsibilities in writing for your records and accountability’s sake.

Your business “neighbors” can also come from outside your geographic area. Look for ways to work with complementary businesses in your industry, such as manufacturing partners, supply vendors, or other potential collaborators.

Investors

If your business needs capital to grow, you’ll seek financial partners. Don’t assume that finding an angel investor is the only route. Explore your options in a SCORE webinar on funding options, including equity investors, crowdfunding platforms, microfinance organizations, and banks

Above all, seek a financial partnership that you’re comfortable with based on your business’s progress and potential for growth.

Mentors

Mentors may not work hands-on at your business, but they’re an important asset for evaluating growth opportunities. Think of them as a coach guiding you and cheering you on from the sidelines during the big game.

Look to local networking groups, business associations, and industry colleagues for mentors you can call on for advice. Of course, you can always call on SCORE mentors to guide you at any point on your business journey.