[Friday Learning] Do you have a partner program for your startup?

5th Jul 2013
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Partners are great channel to increase customer touch points & scale your business. As a startup you created a great product or services offering with some marquee customers & proven business model where customers are willing to pay. How do you reach potential customer base, is the challenge which most start-up’s keeps facing. One of the solutions is to have partnerships, good partnerships which become your lifeline of doing business. First if your products or services are resalable by others independently then your offerings have reached a certain maturity stage to achieve next level of growth by becoming a "BRAND". So the question to ask is "Is my start-up franchise able?" if answer is yes then you have unlimited upside to your business.


Partnership Program

The main purpose of having multiple partners to reach end customers is to bring the real potent force of one plus one equals eleven instead of two. The math of business changes with each Partner support getting added to your business. These partners may resell your product or service “as is,” or they may add value to the product or service by enhancing it or embedding it into their own products or service and with complementary additions. Partner provides value add, performs the desired execution of delivery and expects an economic return. The first & only commandment of a partner engagement, of course, is that both you and the partner want to make a profit through the sale of your product or service. In crude terms your partner are your salesman minus salary cost, hence you need to have appropriate profit sharing. Partners have the local connects, experience with law of the land and scale of operational access which means that greater profits can be achieved rather than if trying to run a sales operation by own. So it helps creating large set of loyal partners results in business continuity & profitable returns.What do you look into while garnering partners across the world? Few major points to consider will be business alignment, ability to execute, target markets. Working with a Partner is never that simple. Even when partner is a perfect fit, there are going to be times when you need to speak up, and say something difficult. Anyone who's wants to nurture a business relationship has to know this. Channel Partnership Program in business is all about surviving, counter-balancing, and building over again & again with better & better partners. Identify what are the Partner trends in your compete space. If you are the first one to create a partner program then then far more better is your opportunity to create your own market category. If not then try and learn what other peer companies in the space are doing & how your startup partner program can differentiate uniquely to engage in partnering. A successful partnership program for your startup will help to recognize weaknesses, and draw on a partner's strengths, without being uncomfortable about that vulnerability. Work with partners to deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction possible. With focus on this end customer endorsement mantra long term trust relationship is built through partner.

Startups often have just one quick shot to attract potential partners as they are still emerging, so it’s important to have all cool company visuals like logos, websites and collaterals ready to share. As a startup invest in policies and procedures to maintain that consistency. Get to be known as a happening company; partners are attracted to cool start-up’s.

Most startups are not bold enough to venture, saying, ‘I’m a cool company with future big & worthy of your attention. Better take me seriously.’ If your start-up has a compelling value proposition, that speaks for itself.  In 1980, Microsoft formed a partnership with IBM that allowed them to bundle Microsoft's operating system with IBM computers, paying Microsoft a royalty for every sale. Microsoft was a startup then in comparison to IBM but they had a compelling story for IBM to get hooked up & history was created.

Nothing is more rewarding than creating a successful partner program for your startup. Go ahead give a shot & reach out to the world with Partners in toe.


Sanjay Mehta Angel Investor

About the author : Sanjay Mehta is a Guerrilla serial entrepreneur, cheesy investor, thumping evangelist & influencing India IT investor member at Indian Angel Network, Charter Angel Venture Nursery & Investor in PE Funds. Holds currently a portfolio of 16 diversified startup companies.

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