Your Competitors Can Be a Resource – Propose a Joint Venture With Them

What do you think of when you hear the words “Joint Venture”? Do you think of large corporations working on multi-million dollar deals? Or, do you see entrepreneurs engaging in partnerships that can share some or all of the following: intellectual property, assets, database, knowledge, and last but not least, profits.

Managing a Joint Venture

It is important to remember that a joint venture is not a merger, so there is no transfer of any kind of ownership. However, it can be a good idea to outline what each party is bringing to the table in the form of a legal agreement. It can also be a good idea to outline what the purpose of the joint venture is to help alleviate unspoken expectations on the part of either party. There are joint venture templates available online should you choose to draw something up yourself. Most business people recommend having a lawyer at least review your document to make sure that you aren’t inadvertently signing a portion of your business away.

Creative Joint Venture relationships

Because a joint venture is not a merger, you can use joint ventures in a variety of ways, particularly in small to mid-sized business. Joint ventures allow you to share resources, not only with complimentary industries, but also with your competition. That is, of course if your competition is open to joint venturing. Naturally, when you engage in a joint venture with your competitor, you will want to make sure that you have fully protected proprietary information.

Here is a real-life example of a competitive joint venture: There were two staffing companies who combined resources to woo a large client whom neither of them had the capacity to service. Both owners knew and respected each other, so they decided a joint venture might be in order. After discussing the logistics of such a venture, it was decided that they would each service a specific geographic area for the client in order to prevent doubling up on staffing assignments. Then, if one or the other could not service the client’s request in their area, they would pass the business to the other agency. In this way, the client was serviced at all times, and the two smaller companies were able to gain a piece of the action in the big business arena. The venture worked so well that both companies increased their profit margin by 30%. Realizing they could do more with additional large clients, they quickly adopted the joint venture philosophy as part of their overall business plan.

Finding the right Joint Venture fit

Joint venturing with a competitor can be a scary proposition. It’s wise to know who you are partnering with, and how they normally conduct business. If you have similar operating procedures, it could be worth an exploratory meeting to see if a joint venture could become a win-win for both businesses. A conversation never hurts. Neither does a trial run. Above all, remember that the key to a great joint venture is to communication. You must communicate expectations, operating procedures, timelines, etc. Who knows? If one competitive joint venture works, you may find yourself building streams of revenue you never would have imagined.

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