Two small business professionals discuss how they can collaborate their operations.

Growing Your Business Through Strategic Partnerships

For a good reason, marketing professionals recommend small businesses take the time to form partnerships to ensure a robust sales strategy. The right collaboration has the power to increase your audience reach, brand awareness, and revenue.

"Strategic partnerships can be a pivotal factor for growth and success, and a win for everyone involved," writes Katie Culp, partner at Benchmark ONE, in a post for the St. Louis-based marketing solutions company.

According to a report by Forrester Consulting, businesses that invest in partnerships drive growth and competitive advantage.

"Partnerships take many shapes, but all are increasingly critical to helping companies grow revenue by accessing prospects and customers that the company may not otherwise reach," says the report.

According to its survey of businesses, three in four respondents (77%) said they saw partnerships as central to their sales and marketing strategy.

Further, partnerships contribute a high and growing share of overall revenue, according to those surveyed by Forrester.

"Over half of the companies we surveyed (52%) get more than 20% of their revenue from the partnership channel. On average, partners contribute 23% of overall company revenue," states the company's report.

Find the Right Fit

A partnership is an excellent tactic for growing sales and audiences, writes Catherine Erdly, founder of The Resilient Retail Club, in a Forbes post

When looking for a potential partnership, small businesses should seek a complementary and non-competitive company to collaborate with, she adds.

"Retailers can reach out and tap into the most engaged part of the partner business's audience – an audience that's highly likely to like the type of offering," Erdly says.

A SCORE article explains that connecting with other businesses through partnerships can lead to mutually beneficial cross-promotional collaborations.

"Strategic partnerships can work for businesses at almost any stage of growth, the business mentors network says.

"And they can range from relatively minor arrangements, such as co-marketing your products, to more important functions, such as licensing another company's technology to use in the websites you build."

Katharine Lau, CEO and co-founder of the Brooklyn-based self-storage company Stuf, says her partnership with the owner of a local moving company is a deal that benefits both of them, including improved customer experiences.

"We really want to make sure our customers have a good experience end to end," Lau tells staff reporter Rebecca Deczynski. "And it's possible to do that without having to build both a storage company and a moving company at the same time."

Partnering on Products, Services 

Partnerships are at the very core of a Kansas City-based startup that launched a gifting app this year called afloat, allowing customers to choose from local partnering companies to create packaged gifts with same-day delivery.

Entrepreneurs Sarah-Allen Preston, Laura McKnight, and Olivia Lynn formed partnerships with various local businesses in Kansas City and Dallas, where they launched their app this year.

And recently in Kansas City, the startup landed a collaboration with another collaboration-driven platform, Made in KC, a curator and retailer of locally made products with shops, cafes, and marketplaces across Kansas City, according to a Startland News story.

"We are so excited to be live in both cities; and it has been so gratifying to see relationships being easily celebrated and local retail being supported," Preston said in the story by Channa Steinmetz. "We have been amazed by the traction and look forward to continued growth."

Creating Relationships

Jon Kozesky, founder of Jon Thomas Consulting and executive director of the Brecksville, Ohio, Chamber of Commerce, is big on connecting local businesses, and even suggesting possible collaborations, according to an Inc. story.

"Your company might be small," he told Inc. staff reporter Rebecca Deczynski. "But if we all band together, we can actually begin to compete with some of those bigger organizations."

Also, forming strategic partnerships with fellow local entrepreneurs allows you to share and gain the knowledge to grow your business, Kozeksy adds.