Want That Big Contract? A Partner Can Help You Get it


By John Riley

All too often small companies hesitate to quote on large contracts because they don’t feel they have the capabilities or resources to fulfill the requirements.  That may be true, however partnerships can be the solution to grow when all other avenues offer limited opportunities.

 Management attitudes toward competitors in the past have created barriers to keep competitors at a distance .  Not any more. Today, the word is connectivity and building a more formidable means to sustain competitive advantage.  This process broadens the executive’s view so she/he can scan the horizon for larger business opportunities rather than focusing exclusively on the smaller niche markets.

 Transitioning to a business partnership starts when a large purchase requirement  appears  and you want to pursue it.  That’s when the capabilities and resources needed to  handle the order are defined. Once the requirements your company can provide are noted, the balance of capabilities and resources are what a partner will need to provide.

 For example, one partner may have special skills in software and hardware selection and compatibility. The other partner may have expertise in managing computer networks worldwide.  The combination of skills significantly elevates the partnership’s  qualifications beyond either company’s individual capabilities.

 Another example could be a public relations firm and an advertising agency.  

 Values are very important to a successful partnership. There needs to be an exchange of views to make sure there are no conflicts that might disrupt a good working relationship. Occasionally, this is an area overlooked by business owners and executives in forming partnerships, joint ventures and mergers and when that happens, problems occur frequently.

 Another area where understanding and agreement is necessary is defining  the purpose of the partnership.  Usually partnerships, like joint ventures and mergers, are undertaken for more than one reason. To avoid working  at cross purposes, the potential partners need to discuss what they want to gain from the cooperation.  If there isn’t agreement, then its best to start looking for another partner.

 The confidentiality of information shared in the partnership needs to be protected. A confidentiality agreement should be consummated between the two companies early in the discussions.

 Sometimes one or both partners will take for granted who will do what if they get the contract they are pursuing. That’s a bad idea. It’s important to determine the responsibilities of each partner at outset of discussions. 

 Properly structured, partnerships can be very effective, save time and increase productivity.  In effect,  partnering gives you competitive advantage by accessing your partners skills and resources.  Don’t overlook this avenue to growth.

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