Friday, December 01, 2006

LNB #028: Collaborative Business Ventures

OK, you've found an opportunity that's big and juicy and maybe a little bigger than you have the capacity and skills to accomplish. Consider bringing in others to help round out the gaps. However, as you're marshalling the troops, be sure to focus on the things that matter -- particularly before you start creating a business proposal for services.

Joint Ventures
What you need to know about a joint venture (JV) is that it is a business entity (partnership or corporation) that the members or member organizations create. Wikipedia lists these reasons to JV:

  • Internal reasons: spreading cost and risk; maximizing financial and other resources, creating economies of scale, accessing new tech and customers, leveraging innovative managerial and process practices.
  • Competitive goals: gaining the upper hand on the competition, generating velocity in market entry, increasing flexibility.
  • Strategic goals: use of synergies, improved technology and other skills, diversifying and broadening reach.
Collaborative Ventures
Here, several business owners or specialists join forces to gain market advantage. Things to consider, chiefly, are how you'll manage risk and cost -- items that are usually taken care of in a JV arrangement. You'll need to consider how you'll manage budget, communication, contracting among each participant (who'll be the prime contact and contractor and who'll be the subs), fees for each service offered/needed, which services are strategic and which ones are tactical and, of course, you'll need to ensure that everyone has the kinds of insurance and other protections in place.

Ever notice how we're more likely to talk with people about communicable maladies they might have before we swap spit with them and get emotionally entangled than we are to do the kinds of background checks on people we might become financially entangled with? Take the hint: do the background check on each participant. This way you can head off trouble in advance. Anyone who would be unwilling to be checked isn't someone you want to work with. If you're the one with questionable info, be sure you can truthfully and fully explain the circumstance. People can understand if you've fallen and gotten up. No one, however, likes surprises in a business deal.

CHIME IN: Do you have a "win" you want to share -- a time when you partnered successfully with another or several other businesses? Let us know what worked. Do you have a "loss" in your column? Well, that's still a solid opportunity for you to teach us. You can submit your comments anonymously.

Be generous.