Tired of going it alone? Is the burden of making all the decisions, providing all the financing and working continuously more than what you anticipated? Or perhaps you’re missing key elements for your business such as assets, skill sets, products or services that could propel your business to the next level. All these reasons and more are enough to hinder the growth of a would-be successful business; therefore, finding a business partner could be the answer to your predicament. The primary reasons, I believe, one seeks to find a business partner is to maximize profit while minimizing risk and effort. I know you’re probably thinking of the old adage which equates partnerships to marriages and we all know how a lot of marriages turn out. But unlike a marriage, a good partnership is not built on emotions and feelings but sound analytical judgment. If executed correctly, a good partnership will add value to your business.
Partnership or Strategic Alliance
Don’t worry a partnering agreement doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment. In fact, you can and should create a strategic alliance as a way of testing the viability of the potential partnership before you sign a contractual agreement to form a partnership. A strategic alliance by definition is usually less formal and typically has a specific end date. You can develop a strategic alliance with a business or entrepreneur. It can be for a specific project, task or the obtainment of a particular product or service. Developing a strategic alliance first, will allow you to test the arrangement before determining if something more lasting can be established.
SBA Pilots Small Business Teaming Program
Another form of collaboration is “Teaming”. Teaming agreements are for the express purpose of working on a specific project or bid. It allows small businesses to pool their resources for projects or bids too large for one business to handle. The federal government believes so strongly in this, that the Jobs Act authorizes the Small Business Adminstration (SBA) to “make grants to eligible organizations to provide assistance and guidance to teams of small business concerns seeking to compete for larger procurement contracts.” The SBA Office of Government Contracting is executing this provision by asking qualified organizations (for profit and non profit) to compete for the grant funding. Recipients of awards made under this Announcement will be expected to help small business concerns “find other firms that may be interested in teaming with them, assist small business concerns with the formation and execution of teaming arrangements, aid teams of small business concerns with identifying appropriate larger contracting opportunities, and assist teams of small business concerns with the preparation and submission of bids and offers”.
Tips for Developing a Partnering Alliance
1. Develop a Plan – first, you must determine your company’s value and the value you want from the alliance partner. You can accomplish this by outlining your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what you bring to the table and what you want from the alliance partner helps you develop a strategy.
2. Identify the Right Partner – once you’ve identified an alliance partner, perform your due diligence to determine if the alliance partner is the right fit. Determine the alliance partner’s:
• Financial Position
• Core Capabilities
• Company Culture
• Tangible and Intangible Assets
• Operations and Processes
• Legal Liabilities (if any)
3. Develop the Agreement – Joint Ventures and partnerships will usually require a more formal contract than a strategic alliance. Consider the following when developing an agreement:
• Legal structure
• Equity interests of each party
• Initial capital and any commitments to future financing
• Voting structure
• Decisions requiring consent of the partners
• Commitments to provide technology
• Non-compete undertakings
• Broad scope of any warranties/indemnities
• Basic exit provisions
• Condition standards
• Target timescales
4. Performance Measurements – develop accountability measures with a timetable for goals and benchmarks.
Whether developing a partnership, joint venture, strategic alliance or teaming, it’s always good to consult with your attorney before signing the agreement.