Developing partnerships and collaborative relationships

Good networking can result in business partnerships and collaborative relationships, which are beneficial to your enterprise. If your business has been up and running for some time, but growth has slowed down, then you might need outside help. Finding ways to remain relevant in the market, while still taking care of business can be difficult as a solopreneur. It is possible that your business is at a crossroads, and would benefit from some outside expertise, tools or resources to avoid becoming stagnant.

A viable solution can be to form partnerships or collaborative relationships with other businesses. A strategic business partnership is not a business relationship that looks to exchange or extract value for your business from the other organisation. It is a long-term relationship, focused on creating joint value, the key element is mutuality/reciprocity.

Personal experiences might have already taught you that solving challenges is easier together. When done correctly, strategic business partnerships offer benefits to both organisations involved, as well as the potential to increase growth and efficiency for both. Collaboration is a joint effort between two or more people, without hidden agendas, to produce an output in response to a common goal or shared priority. Often this output is greater than what could have produced by working alone.

Benefits of partnerships and collaborations are explained below:

Overcome fears: Fear about changes that can affect your business, whether market-driven, regulatory or industry-specific can be worrying. Integrating solutions through the help of a strategic business partner can help minimise the negative impact of changes in your business.

Increase your expertise, have access to resources: Your business may benefit from developing high-value content through a joint value proposition aimed at your target market. Partnering with large associations, agencies or industry experts is a good way to shorten your go-to-market cycle. Purchasing resources together can help you decrease your costs of acquisition. Partnering with other solopreneurs is an effective way to reduce expenditure, buying together a certain software, or if you have the same target group you can help each other with referrals. Sharing marketing costs and associated work is a great way benefit from partnerships.

Growth in sales and revenue: When two or three strategic partners function at high capacity, it is possible to create multiple revenue streams, therefore increasing potential to sell to a larger market. You do not have to limit your company to entering only one strategic business partnership. Tapping into new markets can be exciting but doing it alone can be limiting. It is important to carefully choose what kind of partnerships you want to form.

Added value to your products: Working together with other enterprises can lead to minor innovations, research, and co-developing products adds more value to your products. This shows customers you care, encouraging one of the most powerful marketing tools: word of mouth. Customers who hear positive comments about your business are going to tell their friends about it.

Collaboration works best when relationships are treated as genuine partnerships: All parties are involved in creating superior new value together. To create effective partnerships, you will need structural elements, like shared goals, interdependence, accountability, and behavioral elements, such as character/integrity, commitment and honest/authentic communication.

Shared goals show how the project's goals align with some larger strategic objective of each teammate. Shared goals not only define what we are trying to do together, they also create meaning and purpose for the larger cause.

Interdependence allows partners in a collaboration to share each other’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences to achieve the task or project’s shared goal. Shared goals mean no teammate can accomplish alone what the partnership of interdependent teammates can accomplish together.

Accountability is about responsibility, linking partners and increasing their commitment. Accountability builds individual trustworthiness.

Integrity means that collaborative partners should work to develop and build mutual trust. They are sincere, work hard to keep their word and agreements, and are honest and truthful with each other when problems arise. They do not abuse the information they gain.

Commitment builds from each teammate being active in the collaboration. Commitment means teammates have more than just personal self-interest. Collaborative partners show tangible signs of long-term commitment by willingly devoting energy, time, money, headcount, facilities and other resources.

Traits of authentic communication are being open, honest, credible, trustworthy. Collaborative partners share information that will make the relationship work and the project be successful. There is a technical side of communication regarding things like functional strategies, goals, technical information, market data, financial data, trends, improvement ideas and there is an emotional/human side which must exist when it comes to building trust, resolving conflicts, delegating assignments, or striving for consensus.



Examples from the wildlife to symbiosis and parasitism. Sources: left picture, right picture.

To summarise, good business partnerships are symbiotic, think about a bird that gets a free meal from cleaning the parasites off an elephant's back, both animals benefit at no cost to the partnership. In contrast a parasitic organism lives on a host, taking what it needs to stay alive while often injuring the host. Using the parasitic approach can be useful in the short term but pursuing this business conduct is risky and will not be tolerated for long. This behaviour undermines your reputation and can hinder future expansion. Without mutual appreciation it will be difficult to establish business relationships. Sacrificing the future of your enterprise for quick profit is not a good idea.


Strategic partnership examples:

There are various cohorts, which help Virtual Assistant solopreneurs to connect with customers. The Serve Team has been on the market for 10+ years, offering a 200% performance guarantee and 24/7 hours of support to anyone in need. They select their virtual assistants based on their experience, dedication and excellence. While the company particular about who they are hiring, a good high-performing member VA, will be able to enjoy a good reputation, plenty of work and appreciation from both the client and Serve Team. Joining one of these companies is a great way to get access to a larger client base resulting in plenty of work and minimum networking efforts.

Forming and maintaining partnerships is not easy. Suzie Poirier is a successful VA who has years of experience with various customers. She found the hard part was to understand that being someone’s partner is an honour. Or as explained by Suzie: “When operating a business, you want to be The One customers and prospects call on for assistance, products and services. It is a simple formula to generate strong community ties toward real business partnerships. The digital landscape lends itself to relationship building just as in any other type of networking environment. Clients are not dollar signs but real people with real needs and pain points. Demonstrate your expertise, gain trust and validate your ability to solve their most pressing problems.”

Lucrative collaboration in the world of industry influencers can be quite simple, providing valuable insight. Influencers will use this information for topics on their blogs or news websites. Stories about your organisation on these industry-influencing websites can increase your online PR and search relevancy.

To learn more about business relationships and its types click on this link.


To ensure your business partnership will be effective follow these tips:

  • Share the same values
  • Choose a partner with complementary skills
  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities
  • Select the right business structure
  • Put it in writing
  • Be honest with each other

To find out more use this link.
MyVA Project number: 2020-1-SE01-KA226-VET-092491
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. 
The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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