First, congratulations! You are amazing! You have joined the ranks of people creating businesses that power our economy, employ thousands and create the solutions of the future. 


Like all trailblazers, you are facing unique challenges. It’s not as simple as checking off the boxes on a list of How to Start a Business. The entrepreneurial journey takes persistence and foresight. Sometimes, it will feel like you are the only person to see what is possible. 


One of the most pivotal aspects of running a business is relationships. Creating a network around your business and partnerships that will power your growth is key. However, sometimes best known practices don't always work. The relationships you need are unique to your business and your entrepreneurial journey. 


Your Path is Unique

If you are getting frustrated because you are following all the textbook advice with little to no result, please know, you are not alone! You will often need to find a way around things. The number one thing I have learned from walking alongside hundreds of entrepreneurs is that there is no “one size fits all”. You will need to use your imagination and creativity! You might think that the only way to build your business is to strike a deal with a certain organization or to get accepted into a certain network. Just because that worked for someone else doesn’t mean that this is your path. If you are not invited to a certain table, create your own. Your future customers are waiting for you!


Seek Out That Synergy

The best way to create powerful and sustainable partnerships is through leveraging strong relationships. So, how do you build these relationships? 


First, start with yourself. Inner work is the foundation of a good leader. It’s important to be very clear on what drives your business. What values are core to your business? What is your vision for the future? Why is this so important to you? When you are clear on this, you radiate authenticity.


The second step is to create a powerful story. Share a strong narrative of a world where your business exists, as loudly and as often as you can. This story is your lighthouse, calling others who share your values and are inspired by your vision. 


Third, always know what is your most important next step. When you know exactly where you want to go next, you can be more precise about how a partner can step in.


Here’s a small exercise that might help you craft this part of an initial approach:


[Target customer] experiences [target problem]. We at [company] have created [product service] to [value proposition]. We want to create a world in which [key impact]. Currently we are seeking [key ask].


The final, but most important step, is to consider your potential partner’s point of view. If you believe there is alignment, take the time to get to know their organization. What are their values? What promise do they offer for the future? What have other partnerships with companies like yours looked like? 


Find ways to work together with low stakes, so you can see if you have true synergy. This takes time and patience, but stay the course. A good partnership can catapult your business to the next level, while a partnership gone sour can permanently affect your business’ trajectory. 


Start With Your Realm of Influence

I know you are wondering, “Where do I begin?” Perhaps you believe you have to start with the big names in your industry. However, not being able to meet the needed capacity or scale of a contract can spell the death of a business. You might be a better fit with a company or organization that sits just adjacent to your current network. This is a huge advantage! A warm introduction made by someone you know (and even better, believes in you) is worth more than a hundred cold contacts. Your current network holds the most important people you need for building partnerships: your champions. A champion is someone who believes in your business and will leverage their social capital to open doors for you. 


Remember, you are not alone! Find those synergies in your network and relationships. They are your superpower!


This article was written in partnership with getWise - a technology platform that provides on-demand expert advice for small businesses and women to accelerate their business or career.  

Blanca's getWise profile