Everyone wants to be understood and you’re no exception, especially when it comes to choosing a partner.  A recent survey of 523 small businesses conducted by The UPS Store indicated that 75 percent of you believe it’s important to have support from a business resource who understands your needs and concerns, namely another small business. Still, only 52 percent of you currently work with another small business owner.

The UPS Store survey also revealed that nearly half (46 percent) of you would like to work with a local resource who can help make your life easier. Still no more than one in four respondents receive any kind of support from a business partner in running your business.

It’s clear that many of you recognize the value of forming a strategic partnership with another small business – possibly one that sells complementary products or services. Such a partnership can expand your network of prospective clients and at the same time reduce your time and cost of new business marketing.

How to forge a strategic partnership that works

Considering the potential for growth that can come from the right strategic partnership, you want to be sure to make the right choice.

Assess the market: Begin looking for a strategic partner by first analyzing market sectors that complement your business and whose customers could be candidates for your products or services. If you are an architectural firm, for example, it might make sense to partner with a real estate firm; a design firm might want to partner with a printer.

Cast a wide net: In looking for a potential strategic partner, ask other associates and even vendors for referrals of companies they respect and that have a proven track record. Attend local networking and business  events or engage with other professionals on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

Seek synergy: As you explore a potential relationship, make sure you feel confident that you share the same values, ethics and philosophy about ‘getting the job done.’ Chemistry and personality count for a lot too.

Be on the same page: Your prospective partner(s) needs to understand what your business is all about including your goals and perspective on the market. They have to support your goals and be committed to putting the necessary resources behind the partnership so that you are both successful.

Take time: You are undoubtedly passionate about your business and its success. Don’t sign on the bottom line until you find someone who shares your drive, determination and dedication to succeed.