Small to medium sized business owners are looking for one thing from us. Make their PAIN go away. Give them a solution that meets their needs technically at a price point that allows them to meet their needs financially. The vast majority of us are simply not big enough to meet every technical need our clients have…but rest assured that is what our clients want and would pay a premium for! So, without millions to hire professionals in every IT discipline, how can you offer a comprehensive IT solution to your clients? It’s simple…just decide if you want to Build, Buy or Partner for every IT need that you are not great at!
Knowing what to partner for is the easy part. You simply think thru every major category of IT need your clients have and ask yourself if you are great at meeting that need. For what you are not great at, ask yourself if you can afford to get great at it thru hiring or acquisition. Ask yourself if you want to truly invest what it takes to get great at it. If you are close, Building often makes sense. Invest in training or hiring where it makes sense. If you are not close, consider buying a firm to get good quickly if you believe it is critical you offer this service to your clients under your brand name. In my experience, it often doesn’t make sense to go down either route unless it is your core business. It often makes more sense to partner.
Finding a great partner can be very difficult. Don’t skimp on the process, you have to do it right. Bringing in a new firm puts your portion of the business, and your reputation with that client, at risk. Be sure you have a formal agreement with every partner to ensure both you and your client’s interests are protected. Keep partnering agreements in writing, avoid handshakes or gentlemen’s agreements that can be forgotten or easily lied about. You want to ensure that any revenue sharing is formally documented, that your partners are legally forbidden from offering solutions you offer to your
client and that the partnership is slated to go both ways. They should bring you into their clients just as much as you bring them into yours.
Partnering is critical to success in today’s market. Clients are looking for a true solution to their IT needs and are increasingly seeking one vendor that ‘does it all’ so they have one back to pat and one throat to choke. Don’t fall to temptation to meet this need by trying to be all things to all people, do what you do best and partner for the rest!