Supplier Diversity > Articles

Are You Ready for a Strategic Partner?

While some entrepreneurs may feel like it’s a compromise to partner, successful strategic partnerships promote not only measurable gain but also help to hedge risk. Partnerships can help you become more competitive by strengthening your value proposition, increasing your market share, and helping you expand the range of products and services you offer. As a result of combined resources, MBEs can also increase productivity while enhancing quality control, both of which attract large customers. 

If you are an MBE looking to become a Tier I supplier to Fortune 100 corporations, you can no longer afford to ignore the benefits of strategic partnerships. Today’s business demands that ventures helmed by the most independent of entrepreneurs embrace collaboration and seize the resources and wisdom of larger or complementary companies. The only question that remains is: are you ready?  

Here is a list of signs based on our experience working with dozens of MBEs that your business is primed for strategic partnership:

Your customers begin buying from your suppliers

If your customers are directly accessing your suppliers, that means that you have become an expense.  Strategic partnership can support the enhancement of your value proposition to help your customers rediscover value.

Your competitors are entering into alliances

If your industry is merging, then chances are you should, too.  Not necessarily to follow the trends, but if your competitors are getting larger and enhancing their capacity, it will only be a matter of time before you become uncompetitive.

You are regional player in a national marketplace

Being a small player in a national marketplace can limit your ability to get the most favorable pricing on supplies.  A strategic partnership can increase your influence and ability to secure the better resources at a better price.

Your customers and banker are concerned about giving you more business

If both your customers and banker are concerned about your capacity to grow, a strategic partnership may be the remedy.  It enables you to increase your capacity quickly without major investments in infrastructure and operations.

Your corporate business is Tier 2 only

Some businesses' entire strategy is based on being suppliers to suppliers.  However, if your goal is to take your business to the next level, you must have the capacity to do so.  Partnership may be the answer.

Needing a strategic partner, however, isn’t enough. You have to be willing to adapt to the change, both welcome and potentially unwelcome, that comes with collaboration. That said, can you perform an honest assessment of your personal skills and deficiencies while tabling your ego?  Can you put your company’s success above your own need for validation?  If you can celebrate an associate’s victories as if they were your own, that’s a sign that your ego is firmly in check and that you’re ready to move forward. Similarly, if you are prepared to pay someone else more than you pay yourself and endorse someone on your team who may be smarter than you are, these are also clear signs that you’re putting the needs of the company first and ready to work with a strategic partner to everyone’s advantage.