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October 14, 2014

Find the right ‘partner’ to accelerate growth.

LETHAL WEAPON 2I connected with an old industry acquaintance last week… he’s with a mid-sized research firm based in the U.K. After a little social “chit chat,” I asked if there was anything I could do to help his business. To my surprise, he didn’t tell me he was looking for new clients, but instead replied that he was looking to ‘partner’ with firms in the U.S. that were looking to expand into Europe.

That is, if a U.S. firm was looking to expand its footprint across the pond… his firm has the experience and contacts to help. They come together on projects and both firms benefit. What a concept!

It got me to thinking… couldn’t we all use a project-based ‘partner’ like that every now and again? To take on projects we couldn’t or wouldn’t get otherwise… to take advantage of each other’s strengths and minimize our weaknesses… to temporarily merge resources to go after ‘big’ opportunities… to share contacts so that both parties grow?

So I thought about where in our industry that might make sense and came up with this…

  • Complimentary services lines: A quant firm looking for a qual partner (or vice versa) to form a full-service entity
  • Better geographical coverage: Several focus group facilities come together to cover a broader geography
  • Enhanced size and scope: Several independent moderators collaborate to create a larger qual shop
  • Integrating specialties: A research firm specializing in CPG and one specializing in Retail to provide more integrated services to their clients
  • Partnering for expertise: A full service firm partners with an independent moderator who specializes in moderating medical focus groups
  • Combining applications: A research firm with experience in new product development partners with one that specializes in helping to take new products to market

As our businesses evolve, we all recognize the need to bring in skills and expertise not currently in-house. There are three ways to do that… you care ‘hire’ it (new employees), you can ‘buy’ it (contractors, consultants) and you can ‘collaborate’ (with partners) to obtain it. Which one is right for you? Who knows – every situation is different – but when it’s time, remember… you have three options.

What did I miss? Have you partnered for another reason? We’d love to hear about it.

P.S. By the way, if you do work for a U.S. firm looking to expand into Europe, let me know… I’d be happy to connect you with my old acquaintance.

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