Establishing partnerships in your agency

Establishing partnerships in your agency
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In our agency we’ve been on a mission of sorts, to establish effective and strategic partnerships with a number of skilled solopreneurs and agencies. Peers in our community who are better placed to provide a particular service that we have little understanding of, or lack the ability to deliver successful outcomes.

Having contacts that we can call upon enables us to confidently deliver the right solutions to our clients, which is invaluable as we attempt to scale our agency here at NO LABEL Studios.

Due to our partnerships we’ve successfully quoted for some really interesting and fruitful projects, which otherwise we wouldn't have had the opportunity. This ability to offer a full service, without stretching ourselves too thin or taking on more than we can chew, is a nice position to be in.

I would say that establishing partnerships is truly crucial to the success of our growing agency.

Think about it.

If we’re asked to write industry-specific content for a project we would struggle to do so. Don't get me wrong I feel like my writing skills have begun to improve since doing weekly blog posts, but still I know someone better can do it and in less time. Therefore, I would need a skilled content writer to do the job right and avoid disappointing the client in some way. In fact we owe it to our clients to bring in the right talent that can support their request. Likewise, if you can't offer in-house or external talent, don't say yes to the project.

You've been told!

Great partners fist-bump.

Why are partnerships so crucial?

We find that those who establish partnerships with us need one of two things:

  1. A helping hand on projects when their workload is too heavy to bare (they're at their capacity and quality will suffer if they take on any more work).
  2. They’re offering a new service and need a way of getting started (they need our talent and expertise to fulfil a service that in-house they do not have the ability to deliver).

Regardless of the reasons for our client partnerships, agency owners and solopreneurs alike report feeling more positive about their future and less worried about letting their clients down because they have a team who can deliver the end results their clients need.

Having our details allows them to rest easy in the knowledge that our team are available to assist them, or take lead and manage entire projects.

When is the right time to establish a partnership?

Sometimes we hear from potential clients in response to a very real need to outsource work. This type of relation is clouded by the stress of taking on work they can't deliver, and financial strain when they learn that our fees outweigh what they thought they were getting at the end of the project. Ouch!

This is a perfect example of when not to go looking for a partner or outsource team. It's also the reason for a large number of perfectly decent partnerships ending before we even get a chance to connect and explore the relationships pros and cons.

The very best time to explore a partnership opportunity is before any work gets involved. Work complicates the situation and makes for a difficult "first date". Money and other stressful factors cloud your ability to begin a healthy working relationship. Remove stress from the equation and start by getting to know your potential partner without added pressure.

The best partnerships are mutually beneficial

This may seem obvious, but just like a relationship with your significant other business partnerships need to be mutually beneficial. There needs to be common ground and a shared vision, even if only in some small way.

There are a number of ways to evaluate whether a partnership will benefit your business, but some things to consider are…

  1. Will their partnership fill a gap or level up an existing service?
  2. Can they free you up to do more of what you're good at/love doing?
  3. Likewise, can they help you do less of the job you dislike?

Levelling up, doing your best work and letting go of those jobs you dislike is going to be beneficial for your business – and your mental health. If you can do the same for them then you have a recipe for a really great, mutually beneficial partnership.

Lastly, don't forget to do your due diligence and vet your prospective partnership candidates. In fact I wrote an article for The Admin Bar Facebook community back in May 2019, covering this in greater detail and even provided a "White Label Vetting Sheet" (downloadable PDF). Take a look at that article once you've finished reading this one.

Using partnerships to scale your agency

One of the most common reasons for partnerships between agency owners is to scale. Eventually we all need an extra pair of hands to grow our business and reduce our stress and/or burden. We can't possibly hope to take on more and more clients without the support of another person, or a team of people.

Partnerships are better than hiring if you ask me

Hiring can really suck time out of your calendar and that's just when looking for the right candidate. For a struggling agency owner looking to scale, you won't need the added time drain and stress of hiring an employee added on top of all the work you have on.

Explore outsourcing and you'll find it a much quicker and less worrying prospect than hiring.

Final advice

Don’t wait any longer. Identify weak points and skill gaps in your business where partnerships can be established and issues resolved. You’ll not regret it.

If you need further advice, start a conversation with us via our content page or email [email protected].

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