How many times have you started an email, text, or phone call with this statement:

Sorry I’m so behind in getting back to you…

More times than you can count, right?

We’ve all been there.

Don’t worry. Having worked with more than a handful of startups (some successful, some not), I’ve been there.

As an entrepreneur or startup, you’re short on resources and long on challenges. The best advice I’ve heard for managing this balance comes from a very well respected entrepreneur:

“The most successful companies are the ones that leverage all of the support infrastructure available to them.”
Joe Gits, Founder, Social Market Analytics

With partnerships representing the largest part of your professional support infrastructure, it’s important to remember these five keys to successful startup partnerships:

1. Partnerships matter more than you think.

Your partners may be  the largest component of your support infrastructure. Strategic partnerships can help you overcome business challenges by pairing you up with companies that share the same goals.

2. Partnerships are a two-way street.

Whether it’s technology, support, whatever—a partnership must be mutually beneficial. The best partnership delivers what your organization needs and returns what your partner needs.

Your partner’s technology, solutions, and support need to bend to meet your business, and your technology, solutions, and support need to bend to meet theirs. Quid pro quo.

3. Partnerships must be forgiving.

The phrase, “It’s not personal, it’s business” is really important here. When a partnership is no longer useful, it’s okay to move on.

There will be times when a partnership that was once outstanding for your growth no longer returns value. Don’t hesitate to make a change—the success of your organization is at stake.

It’s important to know that you are able to take your ball and go home. If it has been a true partnership, the transition will be smooth because both organizations will recognize the changes in the other’s business.

4. Partners must share their experience with you.

When discussing how you can work with and support other businesses, ask what resources are available to help you with your tactical and strategic planning.

If your partners aren’t willing to go out of their way to impart their knowledge to you and your organization so both parties can grow more efficiently, why invest your time in them?

5. Partnerships are also about the network.

Everyone’s social network is visible. Whether they prefer Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook, it doesn’t matter. Everyone’s reach and influence are visible.

Partners offer open access to their personal and professional networks to help you succeed.

If you don’t think this is a big deal, ask around. See how quickly someone will (or won’t) make an introduction for you. You’ll be extremely surprised at the response you get.

Obviously I’m biased here (and so is ServerCentral) because we are incredibly open to helping people…but this really matters.

You need to know your partners are ready/willing/able to help you make important connections whenever/however you need.

What do all of these things have in common?

The people.

As the core of your support infrastructure, your partners have your and your customers’ best interests in mind at every interaction. Partners need to get the big picture of what you’re trying to do.

Now think about how much more pleasant building and managing a startup will be when you know you have a network of people there to help you.

Are you leveraging your support infrastructure? Your startup shouldn’t be killing you.

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