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Whatever your views on Nick Clegg’s announcement at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference this week, there’s one thing that can’t be denied – coalitions can work better than a single party, and this is certainly true in business.

So when it comes to running a business one of the most successful strategies (if done well) is that of a coalition – or in business terms – a strategic partnership.

Put in its simplest terms a strategic partnership is an informal agreement (rather than a legal contract0 between two commercial enterprises that are stronger as a whole than the sum of the two parts.

So how could a coalition work for you?

There are a number of ways you can look at this.

Firstly it might be that you want to expand your business but not take on more fixed cost (such as a skilled member of staff) or invest in new equipment? If this is the case who could you form a partnership with that could provide those things to you? For example if you are a printer, you might want to start offering website design services to your clients, but web design skills are very different to graphic design skills. This means you may find it a challenge to recruit someone with the right skills to deliver the service, hence a coalition with a strategic partner that has web design skills could be the way forward.

But there are other coalition techniques that could work for you as well. It could be hosting joint events – with the two non- competing yet complementary companies each inviting their own clients so that everyone benefits from the networking opportunities – again the printer / web designer partnership could use this approach.

Whatever way you think a coalition may be of benefit to you and your business, there are of course some pitfalls to be aware of. They do take some work, there is often a need to negotiate and compromise in order to come up with a common goal and like any relationship you need to keep the spark alive so do make sure you treat your partner well!

Oh and by the way – if you’re a printer looking for a great web designer partnership why not give us a call!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jo Stickings

Jo has worked in the media industry for over 20 years. She has worked with businesses of all sizes - from corporate companies and the public sector, to owner managed SMEs and micro businesses. She loves helping clients with their customer attraction and retention strategies particularly when this involves a multi-media approach. She has a down to earth, no nonsense approach and a 'let's get on with it' attitude which keeps clients coming back for more.

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