The below is taken from my book “Progressive Partnerships – The Future of Business”. For a free copy, please see below:
The Power of Progressive Partnerships
There was a time, in the last century, if your company managed to get itself into the Financial Times Stock Exchange Index (FTSE 100), it would likely stay in that esteemed company for an average of sixty-seven years. Today it is fifteen years. Tomorrow…who knows?
Equally, there was a time when a company would need to have built up a significant asset base, have thousands of staff, its own land and factories to get a billion dollar valuation. Today people are starting, building and selling businesses for that sort of valuation within a few years. It’s not common, which is why we read about it in the news, but it is still happening faster than our parents could ever have imagined.
What has changed is the abundance of resources now available to us, and the ease with which we can access them. It is completely mind boggling the amount of computing power we have, the distribution channels open to us and the brain power around the world sitting waiting for us to engage with it.
Your ability to connect with and harness resources is what will determine your success.
Learning how to create partnerships that allow you to leverage on all that exists within them and profit from it is imperative.
The reality is this: if you try and build a business without progressive partnerships you will always be outplayed by someone with them. Building a business is about harnessing resources to make something new or better than was there before. Since most business owners are inherently constrained by resources of one sort or another, it makes sense to understand how to leverage other people’s resources, whatever they may be.
I am a huge fan of Google. Every day I say a little thanks to Sergey and Larry for the absolutely amazing tools they give me to run my business and life that cost me next to nothing. Beyond the cool tools, I’m a fan of the business itself, the talent it attracts, the culture it has built, and much more. Yet I very rarely use Google as an example of business excellence because people are naturally sceptical: ‘Sure, if I had the resources of Google then I would happily do what they do’ (e.g. give my staff 20% time, free food, free dry cleaning, pets in the office, etc.).
Last year I set up and launched a business for a client. As part of doing so I got to meet with Google’s Head of Partnerships, Emilia Ong. Her job, among other things, is to find partnerships to allow Google’s new products to be effectively launched. In fact, when Google has an idea for a product, even if it comes from the moon shot labs, their first approach is to find someone to partner with.
As Emilia explained to me, ‘We will never try and do something ourselves if we can find someone to partner with who can do it better’.
Even though I generally try and steer clear of using Google as an example of best practice to follow because they are such an outlier of a company, in this case it is appropriate precisely because of their resources. With all the money, talent and distribution channels that Google has access to, why would their first step in any new product idea be to find someone to partner with?
They do it for the exact same reason you should do it. They know exactly how finite the resources they have are, and they know the end goal of having great products or services in the hands of their clients will always be a better solution than trying to figure everything out on their own.
Now contrast that with your average small business owner who is ‘busy’. What do they do with their day? Set up meetings, deal with emails, work on product creation, update the website, onboard a new team member, talk to clients and suppliers. Make coffee.
If Google, with its billions of dollars and tens of thousands of insanely smart employees, still chooses to look outside the organisation for partners as its first step, why on earth does the average small business owner think they should be doing everything themselves?
My feeling is it’s because it is easier to figure out how to learn new skills, like updating a website, than it is to understand the value proposition behind partnerships. Yet once you have mastered progressive partnerships, like Google your first step in finding the solution to any problem will become, ‘Who can we partner with?’ In a world that is quite literally filled with an abundance of resources, knowing how to partner with people to access whatever you want when you want it will change the game for you forever.
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This article was originally published here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/power-progressive-partnerships-callum-laing/