Forming Beneficial Strategic Alliances

Establishing a strategic alliance is not a “shake hands” deal that gets put in place and then becomes the forgotten part of your business. In order to be successful, strategic alliances must be carefully selected, rigorously tested and, like your transformed business, properly systemised in order to work effectively. Many business owners make the mistake of forming strategic alliances with unsuitable partners that end up costing the business considerable amounts – both in lost revenue, costs in unwinding the relationship and in terms of damaged goodwill. When evaluating reasons for these failures, some common trends emerge:

  • Poor planning and budgeting
  • Assuming, trusting and not checking the alliance partner’s credentials, capability, reputation etc
  • Failing to assess the strategic and cultural fit of the proposed alliance partner
  • Not properly documenting the relationship and responsibilities
  • Not agreeing (and documenting) the split of income, contribution to overheads and client ownership
  • Failing to plan and set targets for the alliance
  • Not adequately communicating the nature and purpose of the alliance to staff
  • Not providing adequate coaching or support to enable staff to cross sell or identify opportunities
  • Having poorly defined procedures to manage the flow of work

So how do you go about establishing a strong strategic alliance? We believe there are 9 essential steps after you have decided a strategic alliance is right for your business:

  1. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of a strategic alliance
  2. Conduct a rigorous analysis of your potential partner(s)
  3. Understand what you and your potential partner(s) bring to the arrangement
  4. Negotiate the arrangement
  5. Structure and document your arrangement
  6. Agree on who does what
  7. Plan
  8. Execute
  9. Manage

You will notice that nearly 90% of the process takes place before you and your strategic alliance partner start to do anything with clients. There is a good reason for this – the 90% of the time you invest in preparation will allow you two important things: time to get to know your potential alliance partner even better and time to make sure you have structured an alliance partnership that suits your business.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.
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Learning To Delegate

Some small business owners are proud of the fact that they do everything for their businesses themselves. But it doesn’t always make business sense to be a one-person operation. In fact, you should delegate as much work as you possibly can if you want your business to thrive. If you don’t, chances are you’ll always be short on time, long on responsibilities, and standing still in business.

There are three key reasons why small business people say they can’t delegate. Some common excuses are listed below. Read on to find out why they don’t hold water. Then use a worksheet like the one described below to help you figure out what responsibilities you can delegate.

Money – “I can’t afford to pay someone to do this for me.” It’s short-sighted to avoid delegation because of the financial investment it requires. Yes, you will have to pay someone to do something you can do yourself. But if you’re a consultant who charges £150/hour, should you be using your time to stuff envelopes? Use the time you free up by delegating to find new business. This way, you’ll still be making some money on the tasks you contract out and you’ll be making money on the new work too.

Time – “It will take too much time to train someone. I can do it faster by myself.” Not having the time to train someone is often a smoke screen for something else like a fear of giving up control. If this is your rationale, write down all your tasks and how long it would take to teach someone to take care of them for you. Then choose one or two jobs that are the easiest to farm out and start with them. This will gradually get you used to letting go of routine responsibilities.

Quality – “No one can do this as well as I can.” This is the oldest excuse in the book; it’s probably also true. But it’s not a reason to avoid delegating. A person you employ may not do something as well as you can. But think about the job this person can do for you once he or she is trained. If you determine that only you can complete certain tasks perfectly, you have two choices: save them for yourself and delegate other tasks, or settle for having something done well instead of perfectly. Lots of times, a very good job is sufficient.

Delegating Worksheet Use a worksheet to determine how you’re using your time. Use it over the course of a week or two to see how much time each task (whether important or menial) takes you. You might find out that you’re using a lot of time for certain jobs that can be easily delegated out. Your worksheet should have three columns:

  1. Task / Activity
  2. Time Spent
  3. Delegation Plan

Use the “Delegation Plan” column to record your ideas for steps necessary to farm out a task. Include a list of possible candidates. Use it over the course of a week or two to see how much time each task (whether important or menial) takes you. You might find out that you’re using a lot of time for certain jobs that can be easily delegated out.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.