Building Positive Alliances

Business owners of all sizes make an effort to connect with other people, networks and businesses who share a common interest but who are not competitors.

They do this to share resources and cut costs. It can create an excellent partnership that serves to work to both of your advantages.

If you connect with the right people you can undertake events or advertising campaigns that you might not be able to afford individually. For example, you can share the cost of a speaker or a workshop, or piggy back advertising.

In order to have the best outcome, however, you must create a good alliance with someone who will benefit your business.

What is a good alliance?

All good alliances benefit both parties. When all is said and done, you are both better off with each other than you were without. This is essential as you are spending time, energy and funds to maintain the alliance. The payoff must be greater than the expense and that includes your time!

Consider the following when choosing an alliance:

Mutual Respect

A good alliance is like a good relationship, it is built on mutual respect and trust. This takes effort on everyone’s part to build and maintain. There must be willingness on both sides to interact and create the alliance with the understanding that it will be equally beneficial to both parties.

Relationships are all about give and take and it is the same when it comes to a good alliances. Both parties must have an equal interest in giving and receiving. If you are the one who sought out and suggested the alliance, make sure you offer your potential partner a significant and equal return share in the benefits.

Resource Contribution

In order for an alliance to be successful, each party must contribute an equal amount in resources. The resources do not have to be the same; one may contribute money while the other contributes man power. It is helpful to have someone within each business be responsible for the alliance.

Take the Time

A productive alliance will take some time to build and maintain. It is helpful to start with a small project as you get to know one another’s needs and expectations. When you are more comfortable with one another you can work toward larger projects.

Be a Good Listener

Communication is at the core of every good relationship and this is no different when it comes to alliances. The most important thing you can do is be a good listener. Listen for clues to what your potential alliance’s needs and wants are. This will help you find a way to make it work for them.


One of the biggest pitfalls of alliances is a lack of strategic planning. If time is not taken to sit down together and work out the details of the arrangement and of any joint activities, they are bound to fail. When you initiate an alliance be careful not to fall into the following traps:

A. Don’t think too small – Make sure you offer your potential partner something of equal or greater value than what you will be receiving from them.

B. Don’t think only about yourself – Strategic alliances are all about creating a situation that benefits both parties equally. Make sure you think very carefully about what you have of value to offer them.

Align Expectations

Even when terms are agreed upon on paper, there are often times when each party’s expectations as to how it all plays out are very different. You can bargain and negotiate and think you have come to terms when in fact you have left details unexposed or open to different interpretations. Be very careful to come to a true meeting of the minds to avoid a failure of the alliance in the future.

Clearly defined expectations are one of the most important aspects of forming an alliance. This may require ongoing negotiations as needs and expectations shift during the course of your alliance. Changing circumstances often impact expectations and what initially was agreeable to both parties suddenly causes a rift.

Always Ask Yourself These Questions
•Is the alliance fair and equal?
•Are you expecting a long or short relationship?
•Are you sharing a specific venture or will the relationship be ongoing?
•Are you equals in the relationship?
•How often to you plan to consult with your partner?
•How will the decisions be made and by whom?
•Is the first project a door to bigger projects down the road?
•How will you share any common property, intellectual or otherwise?
•How will you handle any disagreements that develop?

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