Being a start-up is a lonely, isolating position to be in. But by getting out there, making friends and proving yourself, fledgling entrepreneurs can make a big splash in the long run.
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With the number of self-employed individuals at its highest point in forty years, entrepreneurship is becoming a competitive field in itself, with plenty of individuals all trying to make their mark in their respective sectors.
Partnering with a larger company can bring the credibility that comes with their name, and respectability in your chosen field. My experiences have taught me that you cannot be afraid of knocking on the doors of those larger players if you really want to succeed.
"Master the art of patience, and the end goal will be worthwhile"
Making a concerted effort to forge early relationships and partnerships with your larger counterparts is a wise long-term decision for the growth of your business.
Making the right connections at the start of your entrepreneurial journey can often lead to enhanced relationships later down the line, and can provide you with access to the expertise of these bigger players that have been in your chosen field for far longer.
Network in the right places and keep events and company announcements that could offer you a chance to interact firmly on your radar.
Gaining an internal and supportive stakeholder in the business that you are trying to target can also work in your favour.
Often the trickiest part of beginning a relationship with a large company is finding the right way in, but pinpointing a person that is newer to the company, and is in a senior enough, and of course sufficiently relevant enough position, can be priceless. You have the opportunity to nurture a contact who will eventually become a supportive insider.
Make friends with the big fish, they will help you up the ladder of life
Slow and steady wins the race
From my experience as an entrepreneur, I can tell you that having patience with these processes is absolutely vital. Big companies don’t like to take risks, and choosing to partner with a smaller, unknown, business is not simple choice. For me, it was a seven year long journey before getting the final outcome of our Post Office link up just earlier this year.
Hearing a “no” is disheartening for any entrepreneur, but hearing a negative response is one step closer to hearing a “yes”. Don’t let these responses put you down, but use them as lessons and get back up and figure out a way to make your voice heard.
I must have heard at least 100 negative reactions myself before finally hearing one “yes” from Private Equity firms when I was building up my business. Master the art of patience, and the end goal will be worthwhile.
Prove you’re the best
Of course you’re going to think you’re the best, but the chances are, there are many other similar companies doing what you are in some way or another. And guess what? They also think they are the best. So if you really want to partner with the bigger players, you have to show them that you’re the cream of the crop.
Constantly think about the tangible benefits to the business that your company will make. The only way of getting results is by putting your solution, or product, into context for the company. Consider the proposition from their perspective and take care to spell out how your work together will benefit their wider business.
Finally, think about how you can make your connection within the business look good in front of their boss.
Everyone likes to look as though they are one step ahead, and as an entrepreneur it can be easy to slip into focusing solely on your business. But, by arming them with a business case to help that sell the idea internally, they can then wow their boss, leaving you in their good books and moving you closer to finalising a partnership.
Starting out on your own is an exciting time, but thinking of ways to grow and expand must always be playing on your business brain. Partnering with a large player is a major stepping stone in taking your business to the next level, providing credibility, respectability, and scale.
Following these steps can make your journey much easier, and can help you to speed up that process.