Partnerships: Your deal starts with a handshake

Partnerships: Your deal starts with a handshake

Join us this week at Entrepreneurship 101 as we highlight the fundamentals your business needs in place before you launch your growth strategy. Three experts will discuss what worked for their startups—and what didn’t.

Entering a partnership should be a significant addition to your organization. Similar to how an organ transplant works, the new partnership needs to fit into the circulatory system of your startup. At last week’s Entrepreneurship 101, we welcomed three speakers; Bill Mohri, President, M Consulting; Brennan Loh, Head of Business Development, Shopify; and Michael Kosic, CEO of XYZ Interactive. They spoke about entering into partnerships and highlighted some tips and tricks you need to know to build successful deals.

Like a black hole—in a good way

Partnerships can provide a great opportunity to grow your startup quickly. Like a black hole, a solid partnership can condense the time it takes your startup to get to where you want it to be. The purpose of a partnership is to help you grow and accelerate. At the same time, it should allow you to continue to delight your customers. If your new partnership will make you sacrifice your relationship with your customers, then you need to find a new partner.

Be clear on what you want out of the partnership

Brennan Loh’s key advice was that if you aren’t clear what you want out of a partnership, then write the press release that you’d like to see the day the news of your partnership hits the front page. What you add to that press release is what you want from the deal. Compare what you wrote to what your partner wrote—if there’s a gap, then you have a problem and you need to find a way to get on the same page.

Remember that when you enter into a partnership, you need to live with the consequences of what may turn out to be a bad deal, and this can sometimes end up costing you money. Brennan also advised not to chase the home runs. The bunts and singles—i.e., the smaller partnerships—are great ways to score victories for your startup.

Focus on smaller, solid partners

Partnering is not easy and once in a while you will make mistakes. But you’ll start to learn what you want out of your future partnerships and what makes a good math. Michael Kosic explained that once you’re in the right partnership, it will create a snowball effect of good results for your startup. He recommends focusing on smaller, solid partners, rather than several mediocre partnerships.

Think of an iceberg

When working on negotiating partnerships, it is critical to understand the amount of work that goes into creating a deal. Bill Mohri drew the analogy between a deal and an iceberg: the tip is the deal itself, and below the waterline is all the hard work that went into making it happen.

Missed the session?

We know the weather was terrible last Wednesday night—did you miss the session? You can still catch what our speakers had to say.

Partnership Strategy 101

Creating Value with Partnerships

The Fundamentals of Licensing Agreements

Entrepreneurship 101 course resources

And search “Entrepreneurship 101” on iTunes U.