Business Need a Boost? A Complementary Partnership Could be Your Secret Sauce

If you’ve ever visited a fast food restaurant and purchased a kids meal with a movie-themed toy or bought a box of cereal to get the special gift inside, you understand the power of complementary partnerships. While many people think of these types of partnerships as strategies for large businesses, as a small business owner, you are perfectly positioned to harness their power and reap important benefits.

The right complementary partnership can change the trajectory of your business and open up a world of opportunity for you. The HireMyMom team has seen several small business owners successfully pursue this strategy with great success. In this blog, we share why these arrangements are so powerful and offer some tips to help consider if this approach is right for you.

Understanding Complementary Partnerships

Simply put, complementary partnerships happen when businesses team up to promote each other’s products or services. The terms complementary partnership and co-branding are generally interchangeable. 

Complimentary partnerships allow businesses and organizations with different strengths to create something better than either could offer alone. It’s also a chance for sellers of products that are sold separately but used together to join forces and pursue customers together.

There are many ways to create these types of partnerships.

  • A business that offers a product can partner with a company that provides a different product that’s similar or different.
  • A business that offers a service can partner with another service provider or a company that provides a product. 
  • Small businesses can team up with other small businesses, larger businesses, local groups, nonprofits.

Here are some examples of complementary partnerships for small businesses:

  • A bakery opens up a corner of the shop for a coffee kiosk, allowing customers to pick up coffee and pastries in one stop.
  • A t-shirt shop creates a partnership with a nearby school to provide spirit wear for students and families. The school promotes the shop, and the shop promotes the school with joint social media posts, signs, and other promotions.
  • An Etsy shop owner pairs up with an animal rescue organization to create a product line celebrating the organization’s work. The rescue organization sells the merchandise, and the two groups promote each other’s work.
  • A virtual assistant specializing in creating mailing lists creates a partnership with a writer who specializes in writing blogs and a social media manager who promotes small business accounts. The three promote each other’s services to clients but operate independent businesses. In many cases, they serve the same client and refer each other to clients who could use the services each provides.

There’s no limit to the ways you can work with your partners. In addition to promoting each other, you can jointly sponsor events, run contests where you feature each other’s business, share resources, introduce a shared rewards program, and even share a website or back-office service providers.

Benefits of Creating Complementary Partnerships

Creating complementary partnerships offer many benefits to business owners, including:

  • Increasing revenue through more business.
  • Helping small businesses survive and compete with more established companies by gaining a competitive edge and boosting brand recognition.
  • Offering opportunities to acquire new customers, engage more fully with established customers and provide a seamless experience.
  • Retaining current customers through enhanced offerings.
  • Sharing resources for greater reach with lower costs for each business.
  • Reducing the loneliness that often goes along with entrepreneurship.
  • Creating access to additional expertise from the partner and opportunities to share expertise.

Keys to Success

If you are thinking of entering into a complementary partnership, it’s important to do your homework before you begin seeking a partner.

Start by taking a critical look at your business to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what you bring to the table and what you’d like to find in a partner are essential to successful partnerships. 

With a clear vision of what you have to offer and what you need, look for a partner business that fits the bill. 

Networking is a great way to find potential partners. Attend local business meetups, reach out to the Chamber of Commerce, and attend trade shows to find potential partners. Also, be open to finding a partner closer to home. In some cases, a nearby business may fit the bill perfectly.

As you engage in conversations with potential partners, make sure that you feel comfortable with the partner personally, her approach to business, and her business practices. Even though you’ll be running separate business enterprises, as complementary partners, you will be working closely together, and that will be easier if you are comfortable with each other.

Once you and your patterner settle on a plan for a potential partnership, work together to create an agreement for your work together. Outline:

  • The parameters of your work together.
  • How you will communicate.
  • The level of transparency you plan to maintain.
  • How you will define success.
  • Who will manage which tasks.
  • Checkpoints where each business will assess the partnership’s future to determine if it still makes sense.

Please share!

Forming a complementary partnership is a fantastic way to move your business forward. If you enter into one, please drop us a line and share your experience.




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Business Growth, Hiring Tips, Work From Home