10 Ways to Ensure Your Strategic Alliances Are a Success

By | 2016-12-01T19:13:44+00:00 April 5th, 2016|Startup Culture|

Strategic alliances can help you grow your company faster. Forming alliances can provide complementary expertise, reduce costs or manage risk. However, ensuring a successful relationship can be tricky.

Here are 10 tips to help you succeed.

1. Identify the need

Understand where the greatest market potential is. Determine what you need to compete successfully. Is there a gap between what is needed and what you’re offering? Do you want to fill that gap in-house or will you do it by forming an alliance?

2. Evaluate potential partners

Even when you get a referral, you still need to research prospective partners. What are their strengths and weaknesses, reputation, and even financial status? Once you’ve narrowed the field, evaluate things like management styles, work ethics and values. You want to ensure that you’re sympatico. Minimize unwanted surprises by getting references from people who have worked with your potential strategic partner.

3. Establish joint objectives and goals

Develop objectives and goals that reflect what you both want to gain from the relationship. Set realistic expectations and adjust as needed. As with any other endeavor, setting unattainable goals (or leaving goals and expectations unspoken) can doom the undertaking from the start.

4. Define roles and responsibilities

Define responsibilities based on who does what best. Be specific about how many people will be involved in the alliance and what their specific roles will be. Each partner should dedicate resources, which may be human and/or financial, to the relationship, and both need to assign someone within their organization who will champion the alliance. Nothing sours an alliance faster than one party feeling they do all the work.

5. Develop a good communications process

Clear communication is key to creating an enduring relationship. Don’t forget to also develop an effective process for working through disappointments and misunderstandings. The relationship must be developed to the point that both parties can be honest when evaluating progress and offering recommendations for improvement.

6. Develop conflict-resolution systems

It is rare that an alliance will remain completely smooth sailing. Be prepared for the inevitable misunderstanding, compromise and disagreement, and resolve them as quickly as possible. Meet in a neutral location. Be open and honest. Focus on solutions and not on placing blame. Be prepared to listen and take criticism. Discuss up front how to end the relationship if things don’t work out.

7. Build on trust

 A critical ingredient to successful strategic alliances is trust. This requires building respect and good personal relationships. Each party has to feel that he or she is giving something and getting something in return. Take the time to think through what the benefits are for both sides.

9. Demonstrate commitment

Both partners must be willing to nurture and care for the relationship. You can show the importance of the relationship by committing resources to it and having management involvement.

9. Be Patient

Relationships take time to develop and maintain. Give yours time to blossom.

10. Be all ears

Listen to your potential partners for clues to their needs. Knowing these will help both parties work through opportunities and challenges.


Geri Stengel is president of Ventureneer, a marketing research company targeting small business. Geri is a regular Forbes contributor, consultant, Kauffman facilitator and the author of Forget the Glass Ceiling: Building Your Business Without One.