It would not take a lot of energy to look around and find all kinds of information on small business help, small business resources, small business coaches, and small business training that can help improve your business operations, strategy, and marketing. This makes a strategic partner an integral part of your executive tools.
What is a “strategic partner”?
A strategic partner is a “trusted resource,” that will encourage, support, and drive execution, allowing your business to bring about results.
Our clients understand that we function mostly as their strategic partners during their entrepreneurial journey. Once they find us, they’ve expressed how hard it was to find the right strategic help. Here are the top ten things you need to know about getting the right strategic help for your small business and for your CEO level growth:
1. Know that you make the choice and that choice should be a person or company that you respect, admire, and feel comfortable with. In order to achieve the goals you set, you have to work with someone who you can trust and feel comfortable with revealing all of your proprietary information. Do not just choose a strategic partner because a celebrity uses them or your best friend uses them; you want to work with someone who takes your business just as seriously as you do. Take the time to evaluate and choose the right strategic partner based on your needs.
2. Do not get caught up with the trends or the latest fads. Instead, get caught up with what is best for you and your business. There are new ideas and programs’ sprouting up every day and it is easy to get excited or overwhelmed. It is OK to stay abreast of the trends, just do not try them based on your excitement; base the use of them on your strategic direction and most importantly your business model.
3. Only use one resource at a time. It is important to stay focused and not use many different techniques; you have to stick to your vision and apply any advice you get to that vision. Keep in mind that if you are using three different philosophies coming from three different sources, then possibly nothing will work. Do not make the mistake of trying something without completing it before moving on to the next. Pick a strategic partner, and stick to their philosophy based on the time frame you choose. Give the program a chance before deciding to utilize other programs.
4. Be realistic about the budget that you have available to invest. Roughly, it will cost you between $75 and $250 per hour to hire a good strategic partner for basic services. For a monthly program, your cost will range from $250 to $1,200, for a sustainable program. If you do not have a budget allotted before you contact a potential strategic partner, it will be better to invest in self-paced programs or free local workshops until you can pull together a dedicated budget. The challenge will be to “make” it a priority in your budgeting tasks.
5. You have to master the art of asking for exactly what you need. When determining the right help from the right source you must do your research so that you can ask the right questions based on what you need. We tend to allow others to dictate what to do, where to go, how to do it, and even why we should do it. Do not get me wrong, these are things that we need and will continue to need, but on the other hand, it has hindered our ability to think for ourselves.
Before you contact a potential strategic partner make sure you know why you are calling and what you need. If you are not sure what you need, make sure you tell them exactly that!
6. Realize that you need to build a successful team not just a pool of vendors. Try not to only focus on building a list of resources that can help with all aspects of your business. Focus on building a team of experts that understand your vision and what value you bring to your customers. Make sure they get what you do and really understand where you want to go. There are a lot of people out there who are just in it for the money; if you are not satisfied or are not getting what you signed up for, move on to the next expert. Make sure to get everything in writing when hiring outside resources.
7. Determine and analyze your weaknesses related to your business. As a business owner, it is imperative to get your skills up to date and to create a format for keeping them updated as your business evolves. This is not only beneficial for your business but it is also beneficial for you, personally. The top three answers that I get most often when I ask, “what are your weaknesses,” are procrastination, laziness, and ‘I don’t know.’
In reality, these are things that people choose to do or be. We choose to procrastinate, we choose to be lazy and we choose to say ‘I don’t know,” because we lack a better answer. The point is that we never spend enough time on our weaknesses so we end up developing those skill sets, mindsets, etc., that do not benefit us the most. Take the time to correctly determine your weaknesses as it relates to owning a business.
Quick Tip: To make sure you are determining your true weaknesses, answer the question, “is it a choice,” after you name a weakness.
8. Determine the type of help you think you need. There is strategic help and there is advisory-type help. In order to reach your goals and be successful on your terms, you need to decipher which help you need and when you need it. An advisor can be on your advisory board, they can be your personal coach or they can be a group of business colleagues you discuss challenges with. Effició has an advisory board and a strategic partner.
If you choose to have advisors in addition to your strategic partner, keep in mind that you have to maintain control over the advice you get from your advisors and the direction you receive from your strategic partner. Remember, do not just do something because someone else had success with it; be strategic with your choices and actions and know the difference between how your advisors will help you and how your strategic partner will help you.
9. When you get to where you are going, where will you be? If you cannot answer this question, you may need to ask yourself a different question: Why are you in business? I have said this many times; anyone can start a business, but to succeed and flourish is not so easy.
As a small business owner, it is essential that you establish a vision for your business in order to create a profitable path to your vision. How far do you really want to go? This can be defined on several levels. For example, how big you want to get, how many employees you want to manage, do you want to be a local or global company, do you want to retire with this business, how long you want to work in this business, etc.
In order to execute your strategic goals and work efficiently with a strategic partner, you have to have some idea of where you want to go and how far you want to take it.
10. Focus on securing a strategic partner, not just an advisor. As the business world continues to evolve and change, it is imperative to follow a strategic path that is easily upgradeable, expandable, and flexible. In order to have focus and achieve your ultimate vision you need a good success team; at the heart of this team is your strategic partner.
This person is different than your graphic designer, your attorney, or your accountant. Your strategic partner is not someone who just gives advice and leaves you on your way. Your strategic partner should be someone who holds you accountable for the profitability of your business, someone who holds you accountable for the barriers you need to overcome and someone who can guide you down a business path that allows you to continually exceed your definition of success. The bottom line, your strategic partner should help you execute, not just make plans and collect information.
If you are currently working with a coach or a consultant and you are not achieving the profitability goals you are seeking, rethink the relationship and determine if they are really a strategic partner or just an advisor.
If you are able to celebrate that you have found the strategic partner that can help you plan and ultimately execute profitably, then we have no doubt that you are exceeding your definition of success!
© Effició, Inc.
p.s. Learn more about our strategy group.