All businesses of all sizes in all industries use partnerships and collaboration to elicit growth and nurture both professional and customer communities. Start-ups and small businesses in any location are no different. This is particularly true in smaller towns and more rural areas. But those in larger towns and major cities can truly propel their visibility by piggybacking on the support of larger organisations.
Partnerships can take many guises and translate into business or simply as a nod of appreciation between two organisations doing good things
For a photography business, partnerships can take many guises and translate into business or simply as a nod of appreciation between two organisations doing good things. If the key is to grow, seeking out partners and collaborators will need to start from a position of setting a goal which is mutually beneficial. It also needs to be mindful of not drawing too much resource away from the day-to-day objective of being a profitable business. However, taking a step back to go two forwards may also be necessary if the value in the long-term is obvious.
It is important to figure out what this means to your company. Is the goal to open a bigger studio and accommodate larger commercial clients? If so, what is the business impact in terms of more staff for example? Or is the goal to grow very slowly, organically? With the former, partnerships with complementary companies who offer services such as design or PR would present a capable, coordinated group to a potential brand client.
For the latter, fostering relationships with local schools and sports clubs would grow a local network over time and establish your company as a trusted part of the community.
As with any relationship, personal or business, simply wanting a relationship because you think it would benefit your aims is not a solid foundation. There must be a connection, a platform to build trust, in order for it to grow. If you don’t feel like there is a synergy at that first meeting, then don’t push for establishing an agreement. It may develop over time but trust your instinct and let things take their natural course. Your business will thank you for it in the long run.
Don’t run before you can walk. Because what looks all bright and shiny to begin with does not necessarily stay that way. And it can suck in all your resource in the process too. That initial meeting with a bigger company, say a marketing agency, with promises of brand work and lots of it, may sound the most exciting leg-up for your little old company. That’s fine but take it slow, because you’d need to measure the impact of the first bits of work and how that aligns with your company goals. Biting off too much could be a game-ender as you become far too stretched and over-committed.
The small things
More often than not it is the chance meetings or the meetings you take with someone who has been badgering you for some time. You may have put it off, seeing no value for you and that you would be doing them a favour. You are rightly protecting your valuable time in one sense. In another sense, these innocuous coincidences are uncovered gems which could grow over time into the most valuable relationships. A printer, a retired photo enthusiast or an estate agent. You just don’t know, so give them a chance.
This infers a slightly different meaning than a partnership. Collaboration implies more a sharing of skills, lending of professional insight in order to deliver a non-profitable project or event. It can also be making a product that pairs the attributes of two or more companies and this could be profitable. Either way, the same rules apply to keep an eye on resource, do it for the right reasons and do not over-commit.