Developing a business has never been easy, but until relatively recently you could “get by” while being half-arsed.  The trouble with that reality is that it has bred a generation of managers who aren’t that creative when it comes to taking on a real challenge.

These days, only those on top of their game will survive and you simply have to be innovatve in opening up and leveraging opportunities.  Business is  a battle so maybe we should be taking lessons from some of the old generals.  For example, a strategist once told me that only three percent of battles in history have ever been won with a head-on attack.  Being a strategist he was probably making that fact up, but its an unbeliveable thought.  Be creative in your strategy and you could out flank your competition.  In the Czech mobile market the third operator, who wasn’t given a hope in a population of just 12million people, became the world’s most successful third operator and the fastest growing mobile operator ever, by taking a different approach.  While everyone else was building networks from  the population centres out into the rural areas Oskar started in remote spots and headed the other way, becoming  “liberators of the common people” who didn’t have fixed lines worth a fig and badly wanted to gain access to the rest of the world! Oskar’s success was well documented.

Think about it.  Most of our best new businesses, brands and products are successful because they are different.  Anything “me too” is usually consigned to obscurity and probably ridicule forever.  As I keep telling my audiences – You are only as good as your NEXT big idea, and being different is a large ingredient in a successful formula!

Today I’ve been talking about the benefit that communities of interest and strategic partnerships can bring to a business with great ideas and limited resource.  I’ve taken particular pleasure over the years in helping business form and leverage relationships like these.  There’s no better way for an entrepreneurial concern to make it to the big time than by piggy-backing someone else’s sales network or manufacturing capability, but look for your own solutions, be creative!  There are many ways to forge and benefit from links to other business and however small you are, there’s a likelihood that you have skills, expertise or other resources that you can barter.  The entrepreneurialism of a small business is often a sttrength in these situations and an SME can easily find itself in the driving seat of a partnership with a cotrporate.  In fact, I advise all my clients to devise a strategy for seeking out partners and forging alliances.  If you approach another organisation with a partnership proposal you are by that very fact already controlling the agenda.  Keep it that way.

Throughout history, conquering armies have created alliances that swelled their numbers and added to their resources.  Your partners don’t even have to like the idea of sharing with you, but they’ll warm to the notion of being on the winning side.

Michael Weaver
August 18, 2010

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