Business expansion doesn’t come from daydreaming, but as you well know, from experience, it takes a lot of hard work.

Growing your business is not just something that’s nice to do, it is a necessity if you are to survive in the long term. Managing the right mix of strategies to gain market share and improve client acquisition levels is essential to advance your business.

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One of the most effective tactics to adopt is establishing alliances with other professionals and businesses that can provide opportunities for your business to evolve and provide additional services to your clients.

Here are 7 top tips to help you create profitable alliances

1. Establish goals, don’t just chase new clients

A major mistake many businesses make when they approach another professional to work within a strategic alliance is to focus just on gaining new clients, whilst ignoring their own goals and existing clients.

If you have thought about how you want your business to develop and improve and have established goals to achieve this, then it makes good sense to identify and approach individuals and other businesses that can help you make these goals happen.

So, when you approach a potential partner, share your goals, ask them what they want to accomplish. This initial step allows you to discover if this potential relationship is a natural fit and that you share the same values.

If they do, it’s easier to collaborate with them and develop an ongoing plan that will actively introduce you to new clients that are profitable and right for your proposition.

2. Protect your reputation

Your reputation is the single most important aspect of your business. It impacts everything from the number of followers on social media, client recommendations, to your overall business revenue. So why would you risk this by aligning your business with individuals or an organisation that could attract reputational damage?

Before you establish any relationship, first investigate the reputation, integrity, and business acumen of potential strategic alliances. Can you trust them to keep their word and respect confidentiality? Do they embrace innovation and invention?

More importantly, would you trust them to speak to and deal with your clients?

Check out their website, LinkedIn profile, and ask your peers and even clients what they know about them.

Remember they will also be checking you out, and if they aren’t, they are perhaps not a relationship you should be working with anyway.

3. Don’t be afraid to make the first call

In a challenging business environment, where all professionals are feeling the impact, everyone can use extra help with business development. Be positive and contact your alliance prospects and schedule an appointment to discuss opportunities for working together.

This call is about enthusing them to meet you, perhaps tell them you will share data about your mutual niche market, how to market to them, and the most effective way to earn their business. Remember to avoid the hard sell.

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4. Make the first meeting count

Your goal here is to determine suitability to form an alliance.

Talk about the potential alliance, the benefits of working together, and the opportunity for revenue sharing.

Share the information you gathered earlier about your mutual niche market, how to market to them, and the most effective way to earn their business. This will support your case for forming an alliance and position you as an industry expert and influencer.

Provide specific details regarding expectations and what each firm will do to uphold a mutual commitment for your partnership.

Evaluate and gain a better understanding of your potential alliance.

Make a mutual decision. If you determine working together will benefit all parties involved, your clients, and each firm, schedule your next appointment to finalize your agreement.

5. Identify profitable opportunities

Get the right people together in each business and brainstorm the opportunities to work together.

It’s sensible to focus on core interests and business themes you have in common.

Discuss objectives, obstacles, and expectations for your future relationship. Determine what your alliance should accomplish over the next 12 months. In doing this you can establish ideal and minimum revenue and/or profit goals for your alliance.

This goal should represent the revenue and new assets under management it will take to make the strategic alliance activity a success.

The minimum goal that needs to be discussed and agreed is what must be achieved in order to continue the partnership.

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6. Create a plan you can both believe in

Your plan should be alive and agreed upon by both parties. This should be the roadmap of working together for at least the first 12 months.

Identify your goals, the strategy you will use to obtain results, when each step will take place, and who will be responsible for implementation.

Discuss profit and revenue goals as well as expenses. Look for any gaps in your initial plan and make necessary modifications.

Transparency is key so schedule a meeting with your potential alliance to present your plan to each business.

Promote your opportunities, strategy, and the specific steps you will take to reach your agreed goals.

7. Revisit your plan and monitor your goals

Upon mutual agreement, identify team members who will act as a point person to ensure implementation takes place as scheduled.

Continually refer to your alliance plan to monitor and celebrate successes and make changes when you find something isn’t working.

Remember You may think you have a powerful plan, but it will fail if it isn’t implemented, reviewed, and followed up on regularly.

A plan in a drawer is no use to anyone if you want your alliances to work make it a living breathing document which is your template for success.

- John Joe McGinley, Glassagh Consulting, August 2020

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